After a long introduction discussing emerging artists and blind judging, I was surprised to see how much of the Writers of the Future Volume 31 anthology was written by well-known science fiction writers like L. Ron Hubbard, Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven. A lot of this anthology was science fiction successes writing about science fiction success. There is a meditation on Art by Hubbard, on writing by Card, and on art by Bob Eggleston, as well as fiction from Hubbard and Niven. Rough Draft is also fiction about being a science fiction writer after Hugo and Nebula wins.
But it wasn’t entirely about publishing and writing, I did find some lovely alternate world and spec-fic pieces in this anthology. Wisteria Melancholy is a wonderful short about accidentally manifesting supernatural powers at times of strong emotion, swiftly modifying gravity like an involuntary blush.
Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light told a compelling story about a struggling space colony, Shakespeare, genetics, and the survival of humanity. The best scifi for me has a wildly different society, where people still make familiar and human choices. (Look at you, Divergent.) I believed every single bit of Dominion Colony, strange as it was. This was one of those scifi shorts that make me completely convinced there’s a full universe surrounding this scene, instead of ones that are a short story because the worldbuilding won’t hold up to another chapter. The author’s name is Sharon Joss, I stalked her blog and it looks like her previous work is an urban fantasy novel called Destiny Blues. Writer of the future, for sure.
The anthology format meant I gave short stories on topics that wouldn’t ordinarily interest me a full read. Sometimes, this served to remind me why I avoid that premise. (Oh look, a hardboiled spacecop with offstage devoted wife.) But in other cases, I was glad I’d given the chance to a premise that didn’t hook me. Planar Ghosts is a particularly good example of post-apocalyptic worldbuilding, with a characters acting in really human ways, even as they barter half-rolls of tape and questionable meat.
Some of the stories in this anthology were fun concepts, perfect for scifi shorts. In one, a young man is harassed by a misbehaving pet war god, and calls in the local God Whisperer to get better behavior from angry little Zu’ar. Another story was told entirely in 5-word sentences, another cool concept perfect for a short story.
The illustrations are printed in black & white next to the associated story, and then in full color in an illustration section in the end. Maybe this is a function of the eARC I received, but I really liked having an art gallery at the end, and I really liked the blend of styles and worlds all together in the illustration section.
Writers of the Future Volume 31 will be released on May 4th, 2015.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review. Thank you! All opinions are my own, and free copies have never stopped me from snarking about a bad book before.