Reviewed in the United States on August 24, 2016
I don't often like every story in an anthology, but I did in this one, even though the stories were quite different. Some made me laugh, one made me cry (my favorite!), some gave me chills, some made me think and reassess my beliefs and opinions (are they serving me?), and many made me want to look into other works by the authors. AND, two of them had dogs in them - my favorite species after my own, except for the times when they go to number one because of my own! (Oh yes, there were also a few badd-ass women - but I digress). Even though I liked them all to one degree or another, here are my three favs.
(1) The Epsilon Directive, by David Bruns. David is one of my favorite authors. I follow his work religiously, and I have loved everything he has written. If you are new to his writing, buy his books and treat yourself to some great reads! This story is about - as he describes him - " a reluctant soldier, a closet conscientious objector, turned draftee" - who tries to do the right thing, and then is forced to watch it all fall apart - even asked to condone a horrible act. I won't give anything else away, but , after I read the story, I sat for a long time, trying to imagine being in his shoes while he tries to cope with his pain and disappointment. Yes, this is the story that made me cry, and to be moved that much - well, to me, that is worth ten stars! (Oh, I almost forgot that there is also a great miracle at the end - one known only to our hero - so it's not all sad). And, because of that, I loved this story even more!
(2) Second Chance, by Nick Webb. This story was fun and made me laugh. It follows the second man to step on Mars, who was so upset at being second that he hatches a plan to return many years later to the now-developed Mars colony in order to become the first man to die on the planet. Now don't be fooled by any morbidity that comes to mind, because as his plan unfolds, he is forced to make choices that keep him postponing his plans until - you guessed it - it is too late. It's almost a reversed Murphy's law scenario - if anything good can happen, it will - and I laughed as each choice arose to thwart his plans. I won't spoil the ending except to say that you will love it!
(3) The Quarium Wars, by E. E. Giorgio. In this story, a soldier lands on a planet, meaning to warn them of an impending invasion, only to have arrived too late and finding all life destroyed by his own people, who are trying to acquire the planet's Quarium - an element said to make nuclear weapons as mild as gun powder. As the story progresses, his own people try to kill him, and we find out more about his recent past. While trying to escape back to his ship, he comes across one survivor - a dog - which he rescues, and well . . . well, read the story, even if dogs aren't your second favorite species, because it has a really thrilling ending.
The rest of the stories are also good, but these were my favorites. I completely recommend this anthology to all!