What happens when you invite eleven best-selling sci-fi authors to contribute a short story to an anthology? You get Dark Beyond the Stars, a space opera extravaganza filled with AI and drones and gritty space stations and aliens and…
I could go on, but why not just tell you about a few of my favorites.
Susan Kaye Quinn leads off the batting order with “Containment,” a spin-off from her Singularity series. See my review of The Legacy Human here. The Mining Master of Thebes, a lower-level worker with sentience level 90, discovers something odd on a routine walk on the planet surface: a precise stack of rocks where none should be. Like a splinter that can’t be extracted this little man-made structure worries him as he takes us on a journey through Quinn’s fictional world. Things begin to heat up when a master, a fully ascended life form with a sentience level of 1000+, comes to visit. She is there to observe Jupiter’s mag field, and as the Mining Master observes her, something in him begins to stir and the Mystery of the Rocks starts to unfold. As a side note, Quinn does an admirable job of making this story stand alone from the main series.
Annie Bellet goes old school in “Nos Morituri Te Salutamus” (If you’re a little rusty on the Latin, it means: “We who are about to die salute you.”) Space commandos and spidery alien enemies meet mano a buggo on the surface of a planet overrun by Spidren. The commandos are there to recover a black box from a downed ship that holds the key to defeating the Spidren once and for all. From the title, you already know what’s going to happen, but Bellet tells it oh so well.
If you read through the Amazon reviews for the anthology, you’ll see Elle Casey has taken some heat for her story “Winner Takes All.” She gave herself the unenviable task of setting a story around a thoroughly despicable, misogynistic character named Langlade. The main thrust of the story (pun intended) is that Langlade plays a card game against a young girl. The stakes? His ship against her virginity. Casey tells a great story and the interior dialogue from Langlande’s POV is every bit as filthy–and witty–as you’d expect.
There you have it, three of my favorites from the all-female sci-fi anthology, Dark Beyond the Stars. If you’re in the mood for some bite-sized nuggets of space opera, I highly recommend this anthology.
Now available at an introductory price of 99 cents.
David Bruns is the creator of the sci-fi series The Dream Guild Chronicles, one half of the Two Navy Guys and a Novel blog series about co-writing a military thriller, and co-author of Weapons of Mass Deception, a story of modern-day nuclear terrorism.