This is the strongest collection of stories that I can remember reading in the last few years -- 15 stories and only 1 that didn't work for me (it was fine, I just didn't think it took advantage of the SF setting). I really would like to post a few paragraphs about each story -- but wow, that's too much to write and/or read. Especially when you can just go buy the book and read them instead. Each of these stories, all some sort of Science Fiction -- some space opera-ish, some hard SF, some goofy, some super-hero based -- involve the three things mentioned in the title: love, murder and mayhem (all of which can be interestingly defined, but they're there). Despite knowing this about them, I wasn't expecting some of the stories to take the turns they did -- especially the murder part, which frequently showed up when I wasn't expecting it (or at the hands of someone I didn't expect). Check out the Spotlight post I did earlier today for more details.
So let's focus on a couple of the standouts.
- A Goon’s Tale by Kelly Meding
It was clear from the early pages of her MetaWars series that Meding knows how to write super-heroes. This story about the insurance agents that have to clean up after them, as well as Super Villains (and their goons). Nice twists and development of the characters.
- The Responders by Michael Jan Friedman
So, what happens when a super-hero team breaks up? What if there's a Yoko figure who may be at the root of it? I don't know how many Star Trek novels by Friedman I read back in the 90's (apparently, it was 2 -- he only has 2 listed on his website, I thought the number was higher), it was nice to see that he still has that touch.
- The Note on the Blue Screen by Mary Fan
I think it was this story that really clued me into the fact that this book was going to be good all the way through -- a story about an android that solves mysteries, has a close connection to a human and pays tribute to A. Conan Doyle's most famous creation worked better than I thought it would as I started it (or than it sounds as I describe it). I would absolutely read more stories about Sherlock.
- As Time Goes By by Patrick Thomas This Mortal Coil by Peter David , Kathleen David , and Sean O’Shea
Simply put, there's nothing that Peter David can't write, and his co-authors here do a good job honing that. The super-rich and super-responsible are able to get people to sleep and dream for them to maintains high levels of productivity. Great concept and then building on that by asking, what happens when the person you dream for dreams about a murder?
- DuckBob: Killer Service by Aaron Rosenberg
What happens when a souped-up version of Alexa gets absolute power. It's funny, as well as fun and thought-provoking.
I left off my favorite from this list, because I don't think I could keep things to just a couple of sentences. But all of these stories (well, 14 of 15) have a great hook, some great characterizations and an ending you wouldn't be able to guess right away. Not a stinker in the batch -- I expect that many readers wouldn't agree with my disappointment with one of the stories, so I'll go ahead and make that bold claim.
I frequently lament the length of short stories -- not any of these, they are full stories, with well=established characters and worlds -- I don't need any more of them. I wouldn't mind revisiting some of these characters in similar stories or full novels, but I didn't object once to the length or depth. Just a really strong anthology.
Go read this.
Disclaimer - I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the Book Tour.