Genre: Short Story Collection/Science Fiction
“In these nine stories of determination, seemingly ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary circumstances as they confront their fears and embrace their challenges on a near-future Earth or an alternate-history past or even on a far distant alien world.
• A single parent with a Down-syndrome daughter considers what his life and career might have been as a parent and a pro football player in some alternate reality.
• A young girl on an isolated Florida island discovers that her quirky grandparents are even stranger than she thought.
• A high-school basketball player confronts the ghosts of her past.
• A young woman struggles to make peace with the horrors of her forgotten childhood.
• An elderly woman slides into dementia even as she finds some essential truths that were lost in the hazy mists of her memory.
• A baseball player becomes a spy during an alternate-history version of World War II, where he plays a pivotal role in stopping the Nazi war machine.”
“Novelist and editor Rick Wilber has published several novels and short-story collections, several college textbooks on writing and the mass media, a memoir about his father’s life in baseball, and more than fifty short stories…”
Each of the stories in this collection has three things in common.
The first thing is each of the stories has some science fiction as part of the story. However, while always there, if you’re like me and prefer your science fiction not be too far out there, whether that means too far in the future or into the vast reaches of the universe from Earth to be able to relate to, that wasn’t an issue here. Instead the science fiction aspects enhanced and emphasized the more important parts of the story.
Second, each of these stories was originally printed elsewhere, whether a magazine or a short story anthology of some kind. While I don’t know what the other stories Wilber had published over the thirty-year period these were drawn from, I know there were others that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason, and these felt like a “greatest hits” collection to me.
Which leads me to the third comment. Each of these stories was excellent. Sometimes a short story can feel like a bigger story that got cut short or that important details were dropped. Sometimes a short story leaves me wondering what the point was. These were all excellent, fully formed stories that would each be a satisfying read by itself. If you’re into short stories, especially if a taste of science fiction appeals to you, definitely grab a copy of this collection.
My review is based on a pre-release ARC and I can’t judge the final product.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words