Second Rudderhaven Anthology Offers SF/F Epiphanies and Revelations

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Rudderhaven Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology II

I love anthologies. The stories are short, there's enough of them that you're likely to find a handful that you really enjoy, and they're ultimately re-readable, and on second and third passes, you may find the stories you skipped the first go-round end up surprising you later when your mood shifts.

The Rudderhaven Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology II focuses its second volume on "Epiphanies and Revelations," with stories reflecting the theme of something being discovered. It leads off with a story by editor Douglas Rudder, "The Observer," which occurs in a future where the government has been taken over by a cadre devoted coldly to science and reason -- ostensibly not a bad thing, but it's all in the execution, isn't it? As a team of rebels seeks out a weakness, they are saddled with an observer who's tasked with reporting back on their methods so that other teams can learn from the best in the business, as they battle past enhanced cybernetic soldiers and attempt to pull off a critical heist.

C.K. Deatherage's "God Spot" reads very much like an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in both its setting, situation, and characters. Deatherage's work has been featured in the Star Trek anthology, Strange New Worlds V, so I shouldn't be at all surprised if this was a reworked Trek story with all the Paramount elements removed. It has sgood dialogue and a fine narrative pace, although it does tread the well-worn ground of "There are no atheists in foxholes" trope.

The real gem of this collection has to be B. David Spicer's "The Antiquarian." Set in a near-future where the population is constantly saturated with audio/video stimulus, Spicer introduces the Luddite contrast of books on paper and the quest for the impossible treasure of silence. It's a wonderful blend of Bradbury and Vonnegut, and deserves to be submitted for award consideration.

Also of note in this collection is "First-Flight Plight," by Becca Lynn Rudder. This story is much lighter in tone, with a Disney Fairies kind of feel to it -- and that's all right! Not every fantasy story has to have the heaviness of George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan. "First-Flight Plight" is the kind of story that serves as a great entry-level story for new fans of the genre.

These aren't the only stories to be found in this collection, but a review ought to leave some surprises for the reader to discover on her own. But giving this one a try should impress upon the reader that Rudderhaven is a small press hosting some big talent.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0