Mythic Orbits 2016: Best Speculative Fiction by Christian Authors by Travis Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
TBH Mythic Orbits wasn't exactly what I expected. (Actually, I don't really know what I expect these days.) The title and the cover made me think that it might be more space/scifi than it actually turned out to be; 'speculative fiction', of course, is a rather large umbrella term (though 'Mythic' is also another clue). The actual stories, however, are skewed to the more paranormal/fantasy side of things.
There isn't any single unifying factor that ties these stories together, other than that large umbrella term 'speculative fiction' and the fact that all writers are professing Christians. This resulted in a rather mish-mash offering (this is explained in the Editor's Introduction), in which case it comes across as more of a sampler than anything else.
Mark Venturini's The Bones Don't Lie is a stellar start to the book; fantasy with a slight religious bent.
The Disembodied Hand (Jill Domschot) turned a little more paranormal (and slightly creepy) as was Richard New's Escapee. Though I have to say I didn't quite expect the twist at the end of the latter.
Nether Ore by Kirk Outerbridge was another excellent piece -- and one of the more scifi ones, also with a lovely twist at the end! I'd like to read a sequel to this if there is one. (It's also a story I could imagine becoming a full novel, if it isn't already one)
Cindy Emmet Smith's A Model of Decorum was slightly predictable as a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but still very well-crafted. I rather enjoyed it, even though I could see the ending from miles away.
Dental Troll (Lisa Godfrees) was sheer fun -- and a little younger, whilst L Jagi Lamplighter's HMS Mangled Treasure kept that light, humorous tone in a rather more serious (and disturbing) story.
Another more scifi offering was Domo by Joshua M Young, with sentient robots slightly reminiscent of Asimov.
Cameo (Linda Burklin) went back to something more fantasy, featuring a magical artifact with time-travelling properties and a murder mystery to solve. It had me thinking of Skyping Back in Time which has roughly the same premise.
Going back to the more freaky/weird were Clay's Fire (Kat Heckenbach), Ghost Roommate (Matthew Sketchley) and Baby, Don't Cry (R V Saunders) in a WTH, Paranormal, and Scifi way respectively. Oh wait, and
The Water Man (Sherry Rossman) as well, which I don't think I really got.
The final story in the anthology was Kerry Nietz's Graxin. It's a well-written story about an AI in space, reminiscent of Quinn's Containment. (Though Graxin was first published in 2012, so should that be the other way around?)
Anyway, as you can see, Mythic Orbits 2016 seems to have a little bit of everything, which makes it a rather hard thing to define.
Note: I received a sponsored copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes.
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