24:01 One Minute After by Eric Diehl
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I found this anthology as a freebie on Smashwords. It sounded interesting, and I was on the hunt for some new authors to read at the time. I’d postponed reading it many times because my book queue has grown so much. But, as I have that tendency to be a completionist, I felt it had lingered long enough in the digital pile. Unfortunately, it didn’t really fit with my current desired reading tastes, which means it took me a long time to finish it, even though it’s not that long of a book. I’m afraid that drug-out reading time has skewed my review more negatively than the book might really deserve. I can only give it 2 stars on Goodreads as a result.
Anyway, the stories are a smattering of science fiction and fantasy. The writing is done well, although there is a tendency toward overly expansive similes. The thing that made it most difficult for me to complete was that each story, while having a decent premise and a hook point, failed to deliver that final satisfying ending. Thus, the stories are mediocre at best… to me at least. I would not seek this author out for additional short fiction, but might give a shot to a full novel… if my queue weren’t already so long!
So, my Average rating for the stories in this anthology is 2.5 stars. I would recommend the 3 stories I rated 4 stars (highlighted below), but the rest are skip-able.
Below are my ratings, summary, and sundry on each of the stories. Note: there may be spoilers, so read ahead on your own recognizance.
Nanny (1 star)
Nanites run amok! An illicit experiment by an well intentioned but misguided scientist leads to trouble for humanity… as a species.
A Simple Trade (4 stars)
The misguided conclusions of a youthful ruler send an assassin after his half-brother, but the ruler and the assassin both soon learn that the unexpected can bring dire consequences.
Spirits of the ‘Cane (2 stars)
A hurricane party leads to the stranding of two frat boys whose devil-may-care attitudes lead them from one bad place to a worse one. The souls of those wiped out by another hurricane long before have waited for nearly a century. Now, the supernatural forces of a sudden second hurricane are freeing them from the grave… but they need new bodies to accomplish the goals of their hive mind. And two frat boys would make a great start.
Edgar (2 stars)
Two feline sorcerers engage in a battle of wits that immerses them into a magical game meant to grant bragging rights to the winner… but when they physically step onto the game board itself, they may have more fun than they intended.
Galinda (3 stars)
The old line from Tolkien… “not all those who wander are lost”… well, similarly, for Galinda the Hag, not all those who seem cursed want it to be dispelled.
A Kingdom for the Taking (3 stars)
Never try to out-backstab a backstabber! The plotting of an impatient prince and his sister seem to come to fruition… and then there’s the rest of the story!
A Darkness of Spirit (3 stars)
For dragons, the draw of the invisible spirit of violence and bloodlust have been overcome by communal thought. But the unwitting tapping-into of this spirit by a human threatens to draw them all back to savagery and bestiality.
Verdara Lightstar (4 stars)
This is the adventure of a space merchant with more than enough gall and wit up her sleeve to overcome some space pirates… with some luck thrown in, of course.
This one could be expanded into a novel I would read. It is one of the two best stories in the book to me.
Science and the Greater Good (1 star)
A horror story of a serial killer who figures out how to become immortal, posses bodies, and step through time at whim.
The Roots of Fate (1 star)
This one was over almost before it started. A really bad black mage has arisen from his entombment in the forest. Oh, the good guy stopped him. Next… what?
A Second Rising (4 stars)
An excellent little tale of the hooman race of Olde Aerth conquered, subjugated and all but exterminated. The story is at the pivotal moment of their break away for survival. I would like to see this one expanded into a novel as well.