I received [No Way Home] from author [Harry Manners] in exchange for a honest review. This collection of short stories with the theme of being stranded, in one way or another, was a thought provoking read.
[To Sing of Chaos and Eternal Night] by [Lucas Bale] took me a few days to get past the beginning. The concept of a soldier who has lost all being and is just thought sent to robotic bodies and told to fight the enemy was interesting. As I stated, unfortunately, it was a slow start but the ending was worth the read.
[XE, or People Are Strange] by [S. Elliot Brandis]gave a new meaning to getting away from it all. The main character, Bradley, volunteers to be put in a shuttle to find a new habitable plant. His mission is one way and he is to send a signal back to Earth if it is a safe place. Apparently, though, he is not the first, or only, person on the new planet. I really liked the twist in this story.
[Grist] by [J.S. Collyer] is a futuristic view where one entity has taken control and all others are forced to work for them, often underground. Wyatt was not born into this so he remembers fresh air and sun. He wants to escape and be free again. Just daring to think this way can be deadly and he must know who to trust. The question this story had me asking was what is life worth?
[Merely A Madness] by [S.W. Fairbrother] was one I was really excited to see in this collection because I had read [The Secret Dead] and loved it. [Merely A Madness] did not disappoint in anyway. Earth has become a hostile place but most people have escaped off planet. Hannah loves old earth and Mullen sets up a holiday because he aims to please. This would be like current day people going to a wild west ranch, real but not too real. Things go horribly wrong and Mullen must make a hard choice. This story was one of my favorites by far.
[Revolver] by [Michael Patrick Hicks] was the most overtly political and also one of the most enjoyable. The concept of reality TV and politics preying on the unfortunates is so scary because it is not far from our current reality. I really loved the statement made in this one.
[The Happy Place] by [Harry Manners] was a story of a dream gone horribly wrong. Michael has always dreamed of going to the stars and with his wife this dream becomes a reality as he is chosen to colonize Mars. Years later he realizes his dream may be a nightmare as he begins to lose everything he loves. The only thing that keeps him going is 'the Happy Place', a virtual reality of his memories from Earth, but keeping this secret from those he loves may cost him even more. This is the third work I have read from [Harry Manners] and I love how he handles loneliness and making hard decisions. His characters are always deeper than they first appear.
[Renata] by [Nadine Matheson] is a futuristic spy story wrapped in a mob hit with political intrigue. Yes, I enjoyed this one as well. Kaoru is an assassin who gets his assignments from his brother. His latest target is in the past. This is the assignment that may just kill him.
[Cold Witness] by [A.S. Sinclair] was a mental thriller. John Marshall is sent to check out an abandoned military complex that he is told little about. When he arrives there he hears rumors of strange things involving the final project at the base. Upon arrival he begins hallucinating and his memories begin to meld with others. The question of what is reality is constant throughout.
All the stories were well written and enjoyable. I also liked how each author wrote an "Afterword" that explained a little of how they came up with the concept they did. I recommend this to any fan of futuristic and science fiction.