cover image The Chronicles of Davids

The Chronicles of Davids

Edited by David Afsharirad. Baen, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8426-8

This eclectic mix of 15 action-adventure science fiction and fantasy short stories, almost all by men whose names include a variation of David, mostly contains old-school yarns lightly dusted with contemporary touches. Men are noble princes or wronged warriors, ladies “fair but frail” (with certain exceptions, and even those can be won over by the right male). In the better stories, the echoes of the past are recognizable but not overwhelming, as in D.J. Butler’s “The Seven Nipples of Molly Kitchen,” with a “cunning man” protagonist who recalls Manly Wade Wellman’s Appalachian paladin Silver John. David Weber’s “The Traitor” reveals the beating heart beneath the duralloy armor of supertanks. In the lesser stories, readers may be dismayed to find racist slurs, obsessions with “superior genes,” and other dregs. Editor Afsharirad bends his rule a bit to include Avram Davidson (with the satiric and surreal “Full Chicken Richness”) and Barry Malzberg, whose “The House of David” provides the sharpest jab of the literary stick. A few more bendings would have been warranted to reduce the anthology’s reliance on the tired staples of mid-20th-century adventure fiction. (Sept.)