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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Fiction River #22: No Humans Allowed, edited by John Helfers

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Fiction River #22: No Humans Allowed





Edited by John Helfers





(WMG Publishing, April 2017, pb, 281 pp.)

In the Beginnings” by Annie Reed
At His Heels a Stone” by Lee Allred
In the Empire of Underpants” by Robert T. Jeschonek
The Sound of Salvation” by Leslie Claire Walker
Goblin in Love” by Anthea Sharp
Slime and Crime” by Michèle Laframboise
Always Listening” by Louisa Swann
Here I Will Dance” by Stefon Mears
Rats at Sea” by Brenda Carre
Sense and Sentientability” by Lisa Silverthorne
When a Good Fox Goes to War” by Kim May
The Game of Time” by Felicia Fredlund
The Scent of Murder” by Angela Penrose
Still-Waking Sleep” by Dayle A. Dermatis
Inhabiting Sweetie” by Dale Hartley Emery
The Legend of Anlahn” by Eric Kent Edstrom
Sheath Hopes” by Thea Hutcheson
We, the Ocean” by Alexandra Brandt

Equus, edited by Rhonda Parrish

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Rhonda Parrish


(World Weaver Press, July 18, 2017, pb, 319 pp.)


Stars, Wings, and Knitting Things” by J. G. Formato
Eel and Bloom” by Diana Hurlburt
A Complete Mare” by Tamsin Showbrook
Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat-Ray” by M. L. D. Curelas
Rue the Day” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Riders in the Sky” by V. F. LeSann
Above the Silver Sky” by Dan Koboldt
A Mother Unicorn’s Advice to Her Daughter” by J. J. Roth
Ladies Day” by Susan MacGregor
The Boys from Witless Bay” by Pat Flewwelling
The Horse Witch” by Angela Rega
Eli the Hideous Horse Boy” by Michael Leonberger
Different” by Sandra Wickham
To Ride a Steel Horse” by Stephanie A. Cain
The Last Ride of Hettie Richter” by Cat McDonald
We Us You” by Andrew Bourelle
Scatter the Foals to the Wind” by Chadwick Ginther
Lightless” by K. T. Ivanrest

Writers of the Future 33, ed. David Farland

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Writers of the Future #33



edited by David Farland



(Galaxy Press, April 2017, pb, 400 pp.)


Moonlight One” by Stephen Lawson

The Armor Embrace” by Doug C. Souza
Envoy in the Ice” by Dustin Steinacker
Tears for Shulna” by Andrew L. Roberts
The Drake Equation” by C. L. Kagmi
Acquisition” by Jake Marley
Obsidian Spire” by Molly Elizabeth Atkins
A Glowing Heart” by Anton Rose
The Long Dizzy Down” by Ziporah Hildebrandt
The Woodcutters’ Deity” by Walter Dinjos
The Dragon Killer’s Daughter” by Todd McCaffrey
Useless Magic” by Andrew Peery
Adramelech” by Sean Hazlett
The Fox, the Wolf, and the Dove” by Ville Merilainen
The Magnificent Bhajan” by David VonAllmen

Principia Ponderosa, edited by Juliana Rew

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Principia Ponderosa


Edited by Juliana Rew


(Third Flatiron Publishing, Spring 2017, pb, 188 pp.)


Blazing Beamard” by Stanley Webb
Lampblack and Dust” by J. L. Forrest
The Quiet Crime” by Jordan Ashley Moore
The Monster Hunter” by Angus McIntyre
The Groks of Kruk County” by Columbkill Noonan
Mourning Dove” by Jackson Kuhl
Willing” by Premee Mohamed
The Great Man’s Iron Horse” by Mark Mellon
The Hunt” by Salinda Tyson
La Loca” by Robert Walton
The Gleaming” by John J. Kennedy
Closing the Frontier” by Philip DiBoise
No County for Young Men” by Martin Clark
The Wind Father” by Geoff Gander
Etiquette for the Space Traveller: Dealing with the Ship’s Cat” by Lisa Timpf
Gardening in a Post-Apocalyptic World” by Sheryl Normandeau
The JPEG of Dorian Gray” by Brian Trent

[Editor’s note: I have asked for this review to be split between two reviewers. Laura Gobourn reviews the first half of the anthology while Jennifer Burroughs takes a look at the remaining stories.]


Freedom's Light, ed. by Lindsay Galloway, Kia Heavey, & Matthew Souders

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Freedom's Light: Short Stories


Edited by

Lindsay Galloway

Kia Heavey

Matthew Souders


(Victory Fiction, Jan 2017, pb, 276pp.)


The Tenth Righteous Man” by Nitay Arbel
Martian Sunrise” by Matthew Souders
Backwater” by Lori Janeski
The Birthday Party” by Daniella Bova
The City” by A.G. Wallace
The Nomod” by Henry Vogel
Sara” by Chris Donahue
Room to Breathe” by Marina Fontaine
Victory Garden” by Tom Rogneby
The Unsent Letter” by Brad R. Torgersen
Credo Man” by Carol Kean
The Fighting Beagles” by Nick Cole
Shirt Story” by Arlan Andrews
Polk’s Prophetic Property” by W. J. Hayes

Five to the Future, edited by M. Christian

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Five to the Future:

A Science Fiction Anthology


Edited by M. Christian


(Strange Particle Press, February 2017, pb, 170 pp.)


Uno!...Dos! One-Two! Tres! Cuatro!” by Ernest Hogan
Queen of the Cats” by Emily Devenport
Follow Your Dream” by Cynthia Ward
Dreamweaver” by Arthur Byron Cover
Written on Ribs” by M. Christian

Superheroes: The Crossover Alliance Anthology, ed. by David N. Alderman

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The Crossover Alliance




Edited by


David N. Alderman


(The Crossover Alliance, March 2017, pb, 234 pp.)

The Bald Man” by Timothy G. Huguenin
The Last Call” by Kristin L. Norman
sinEater” by D. A. Williams
Hierro” by Jen Finelli
Living Proof” by Michelle Levigne
Airfoil: Hotspots” by Steve Rzasa
Someone is Aiming for You” JD Cowan
Without Blemish: A Philosophy of Preaching” by Nathan James Norman
The Trojan Initiative” by Clayton Webb
Fly Like a Bird” by Rosemary E. Johnson
Chronostream’s Father” by Adam David Collings

Fiction River #21: Tavern Tales, edited by Kerrie L. Hughes

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Fiction River #21: Tavern Tales



Edited by Kerrie L. Hughes



(WMG publishing, January 30, 2017, pb, 292 pp.)


Quest for Beer” by Stefan Mears
Closing the Big Bang” by Michèle Laframbois
Hero #8” By Ron Collins
Girls That Glitter” by Dayle A. Dermatis
The Kids Keep Coming” by David H. Hendrickson
One Last Round at Cozy’s Tavern” by Lisa Silverthorne
Wider Horizons” by Diana Benedict
Grounds for Dismissal” by Anthea Sharp
The Next Dance” by Jamie Ferguson
Schrodinger’s Bar” by Kim May
The Gods are Out Inn” by M. L. Buchman
The First Ingredient” by Eric Kent Edstrom
The Legend of Long-Bow and Short Staff” by Brenda Carre
Killing Spree” by Brigid Collins
The Hot Eagle Roadhouse” by Chuck Heintzelman
Death at the Pines” by Annie Reed

Little Green Men--Attack!, ed. Robin Wayne Bailey & Bryan Thomas Schmidt

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Little Green Men—Attack!


Edited by


Robin Wayne Bailey & Bryan Thomas Schmidt



(Baen, March 2017, tpb, 292 pp.)




The Little Green Men Take Their Hideous Vengeance, Sort Of” by Mike Resnick
Little (Green) Women” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Good Neighbor Policy” by Dantzel Cherry
Stuck in Buenos Aires With Bob Dylan On My Mind” by Ken Scholes
Rule the World” by Jody Lynn Nye
School Colors” by Seanan McGuire
Meet the Landlord” by Martin L. Shoemaker
Big White Men—Attack!” by Steven H Silver
The Green, Green Men of Home” by Selina Rosen
A Fine Night for Tea and Bludgeoning” by Beth L. Cato
The Game-a-holic's Guide to Life, Love, and Ruling the World” by Peter J. Wacks & Josh Vogt
Day of the Bookworm” by Allen M. Steele
A Greener Future” by Elizabeth Moon
A Cuppa, Cuppa Burnin' Love” by Esther M. Friesner
Little Green Guys” by K. C. Ball
The March of the Little Green Men” by James E. Gunn
First Million Contacts” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Alex Shvartsman
Hannibal's Elephants” by Robert Silverberg (1988 reprint from Omni)
“The Fine Art of Politics” by Robin Wayne Bailey

[Editor’s note: I have asked for this review to be split between two reviewers. Michelle Ristuccia reviews the first half of the anthology while Jason McGregor takes a look at the remaining stories.]


Forbidden Thoughts, edited by Jason Rennie

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Forbidden Thoughts


edited by Jason Rennie


Special Introduction


Milo Yiannopolous



(Superversive Press, January 2017, tpb)


Safe Space Suit” by Nick Cole

Auto America” by E. J. Shumak

A Place for Everyone” by Ray Blank

The Code” by Matthew Ward

The Secret History of the World Gone By” by Joshua M. Young

The Social Construct” by David Hallquist

At the Edge of Detachment” by A. M. Freeman

If You Were a Hamburger, My Love” by Ray Blank

Imagine” by Pierce Oka

Graduation Day” by Chrome Oxide

Hymns of the Mothers” by Brad R. Torgersen

By His Cockle Hat and Staff” by John C. Wright

World Ablaze” by Jane Lebak

Amazon Gambit” by Vox Day

Elegy for the Locust” by Brian Niemeier

Test of the Prophet” by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Flight to Egypt” by Sarah A. Hoyt

Reviewed by Robert L Turner III

Nick Cole starts the anthology off with “Safe Space Suit” in which the first manned trip to Mars encounters some difficulties due to inexperienced flight officers and theoreticians. The cause of the catastrophe is prioritizing “diversity” over competence. Very quickly things go Planet of the Apes. The story is a clear allegory of the writer’s view of contemporary SF with numerous name drops to make the point. The problem is that the author sacrifices good writing in favor of political (in the broad sense) commentary and the story suffers as a result. If you agree with the author, it is a mildly amusing piece, and if you don’t, there is nothing else there to appreciate.

Auto America” by E. J. Shumak is a clever short piece that tells of an attempt to get out of a ticket that runs afoul of speech codes. It is a quick, clever story although the ending is somewhat disappointing.

In “A Place for Everyone” Umberto Huffer, a history professor, tries to change his allocation to Buenos Aires in an attempt to stay together with his wife. Since he lives in a world where AIs distribute people based on 4149 factors to achieve the best possible homogeneity, he must convince the DMV-like bureaucrats that his desire is acceptable. In this story Ray Blank takes a realistic trend and extends it as far as it will stretch. The final twist is very O. Henry influenced and works well. The story involves well drawn characters whose motivations are believable and sympathetic; which makes it an enjoyable read.

The Code” is styled in a similar vein to the previous story. Matthew Ward takes a current trend, in this case affirmative consent, and plays with the consequences. Narrated in the first person, we see a first date and the way in which culture, biology and law interact. Again the story is well constructed and is believable within the author’s world.

The Secret History of the World Gone By” by Joshua M. Young is written in the broad brush style in the Robert E. Howard tradition. In it, a barbarian named Anders (“different” in Dutch) arrives at Penitent city in search of the lost history of mankind. There he encounters Hayden, a young woman who explains the city’s custom of circumlocution, gender erasure and offense avoidance. Together they learn how humanity lost its dominance. The story is a classical outsider searches for lost truth story with a twist that is predictable. However, the writing is interesting and the story well composed.

In “The Social Construct” David Hallquist extrapolates on the trend of separating gender and biological sex and then inverts the argument. A couple decides that they wish their two year old boy, chosen through advanced genetic sampling and delivered through artificial wombs, to be a girl, since “Daughters were trending.” The results are both predictable and heartbreaking. While a little heavy handed, this story is an excellent example of SF’s ability to hold a mirror to society by taking a theme and exaggerating for effect.

At the Edge of Detachment” by A. M. Freeman is thematically linked to the previous story. In this world children are not considered “alive” until 13 and may be legally disposed of at any point before then. The unnamed 12 year old pre-child falls out of a tree and breaks his arm. This leads to the question of whether “Mother” will keep him or not. They story is interesting and well written, with the parallels to abortion clear.

If You Were a Hamburger, My Love” by Ray Blank is a slapdash parody of the Nebula Award winning “If you Were a Dinosaur my Love.” It is not worth the time to read. You need to have read the original to understand the parody and even then the material is very thin.

Pierce Oka sets “Imagine” in a dystopian future in which a rookie enforcer is set to learn the ropes from a more experienced operative. When they are faced with a priest trying to feed a man in the stocks, they must act. Although the format is worn, the world building is interesting, especially how the author ties the world together through the use of John Lenin’s “Imagine.” While not particularly noteworthy, the story is decent.

Graduation Day” by Chrome Oxide is another piece set in a dystopian future. More of a parody than the previous entry, “Graduation Day” tells the story of a proud father who hacks into a college’s system to view his daughter’s graduation. The story is tongue in cheek, but predictable and trite.

Brad R. Torgersen presents a futuristic city occupied only by women in “Hymns of the Mothers.” In it, Dinah, a young woman, starts asking inappropriate questions and learns that her perfect world is more complex than she had imagined. Torgersen creates an interesting and layered world where the motivations of the various characters are realistic and plausible. The ending of cautious optimism is typical Torgersen.

By His Cockle Hat and Staff” by John C. Wright involves a world of multiple realities where one totalitarian world, a blend of Maoist China and Political Correctness taken to an extreme, seeks to use the ability to transfer minds between worlds to spread it’s ideals. Workmans-Paradise, one of the few people able to travel between worlds learns that his love, Crusading-for-Womans-Equality, is scheduled to be put to death since she hasn’t returned from her assigned world. Taking a chance, he jumps to the world where he thinks she is and tries to find her. The first 2/3rds of the story is well structured and interesting, but the final portion of story veers into the silly, with an explanation that doesn’t fit the feel of the rest of the story. Overall, I was disappointed that the conclusion didn’t match the promise of the first portion of the story.

World Ablaze” by Jane Lebak is set in a post-Christian America where nuns and priests have to hide themselves. The story develops two parallel threads. The first is a nun’s willingness to help others, even at the risk of her own life. The second includes an ingenious conceit in which the personalities of various saints and beatas can be imprinted on willing subjects. The story is clever and well written with a satisfying conclusion.

In “Amazon Gambit” a mercenary officer is given command of a battalion of female soldiers and is assigned to capture a city on a low technology world. Since the mercenaries are only permitted to use the same level of technology as the natives, he must devise a strategy that does not entail placing the women in hand to hand combat using only swords and axes. In the piece, Vox Day creates a plausible scenario and a realistic outcome when you consider that the honey trap has a long history in both war and espionage.

Elegy for the Locust by Brian Niemeier is a very engaging piece that has a number of elements reminiscent of some of the experimental work of the 60s, especially that of Julio Cortázar’s “Axolotl.” In it, a scholar, jealous of his employer, is led to a secret room where he is magically able to transform himself into his patron. The world building of the story hints at a complex and fascinating world while the pacing is well tuned to the mythic and dreamlike theme and text. This feels like an excellent throwback to classic stories which question the very basis of self.

Test of the Prophet” by L. Jagi Lamplighter is an intriguing story which combines contemporary political events with an interesting take on religion and faith. In it, Shazia, a naturalized U.S. citizen and veteran of Pakistani descent, returns to Peshawar in search of her favorite cousin who has dropped out of sight. When she learns that he has been flirting with extremism, she feels compelled to find and rescue him. When she does find him, she discovers that there is more going on than she thought. The story blends realistic portrayals of location and setting with fantastic religious/mythological elements. The title focuses on the key narrative conceit that each prophet who hears the word of God must pass a test or become a failed prophet. Although there are a couple of rough edges and missteps in the foreshadowing and other places, the inventiveness and clever mixing of elements makes this a strong piece.

Flight to Egypt” is the final story in the anthology and one of the strongest. Sarah A. Hoyt sets her tale in a future where Earth is decaying but other cultures in the solar system are thriving. When Ingrid, daughter of a Scandinavian-founded colony falls in love with an African-American sculptor, she decides to stay on Earth with him. However, once she becomes pregnant she is forced into hiding to protect her unborn child. Hoyt does a good job of the technical aspect of delaying the reveal (which I will not name) until the point of most impact. In so doing she brings up some very pertinent questions about the power of statistical probability and our blindness to the biases that shape how we evaluate and use that information. If that sounds dry, the story itself is just the opposite. It is very human and engaging.

Robert Turner is a professor and long term SF reader.


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