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Title: RealLies: A Zharmae Collection of Short Works
Edited by: Max Avalon
Year Published: 2013
Synopsis: Enter a world where fantasy and reality collide, where seeking answers only raises more questions, and the paths you choose can change everything you have ever known. The pages in this collection will send you on an adventure into the unknown to discover the truth about yourself and the world around you.
Create and destroy destinies when facts and reasons fail in Robson's "Walk on By." Question reality with Lisabeth in "Onward Into Dark," where dreams come to life and the past returns to haunt those searching to escape the truth. Don't believe in escapism? Join the characters of Pike's "The Wolf of Descarta," as they face reality head-on and struggle against wild fantasies that eclipse life itself.
But be careful, our dear readers. One bite of "reality" and you might wish you could wrap the illusions around your eyes once more because as you will find, the truth lies.
Review: Reviewing anthologies is always weird for me. Should I review all of the stories individually, or should I review the thing as a whole? Since this one is split into two sections, each containing 7 or 8 stories, I think I'll review the stories individually but collected in two parts. So first, we have the stories collected under "Curiosity!"
1. Psycho Submersible by Oscar Francesco: This story deals with telepathy and the consequences of entering someone else's thoughts and subconscious. Although the idea is very interesting, and the realizations of the id, superego, and ego are very well done, this story just didn't do it for me. I had a hard time connecting with Jay, and the plot doesn't really flow very well. It's choppy and confusing and also kind of predictable. I'd give this a 2/5 for the concept though.
2. What Happened in the Library by Tucker Cummings: In this story, a young man named Fatu travels from Samoa to the university where his father studied in order to continue his father's research on medicinal uses for mold. Coincidentally, the books he studies are covered in mold from where they have been wter damaged and exposed to the elements and the mold gives Fatu weird visions. I thought it was interesting that both sides of mold are shown, but I didn't really connect with the characters and didn't really care about what happens to them. The story does flow pretty well and transitions nicely between dreams and reality though, so I would gives this one 3/5.
3. The Sea's Own by Madeleine Vaughn: Ships are being found without their crew, and a mysterious man offers his services to find out why. I actually enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. The world is very interesting, and I wish we had learned more, but it's well enough developed for this story. I'm also still very intrigued by Varyn, and I would definitely read more stories about him. I do think that the prologue and epilogue were a little unnecessary though, and that kind of ruined the whole flow of the main story for me. 3.5/5
4. Explorer by K.I. Borrowman: Set on another planet, this story tells the adventures of a man who travels to the other side of the planet to find out about the creatures that live there. There really wasn't too much mystery or intrigue or exciting plot twists, so it didn't really keep my attention very well. I did like the underlying message that you shouldn't believe everything you hear and that the only way to satisfy your own curiosity is to do something about it though. The world and the creatures were creative and had excellent descriptions. A 2.5/5 on this one.
5. The Mysterious Disappearance of Charlene Kerringer by Marlena Frank: Reading like an old detective novel (think film noir), this story tells of the disappearance of a baby girl, Charlene Kerringer. While it starts out like your typical detective story, it soon takes a sudden turn in a completely unexpected direction. Things get weird, but I actually enjoyed where they ended up. I'm still not sure why some things happened or what the point was, but it's nothing that's really important to this story I guess. This story is actually surprisingly well written too, so I think that helped. 4/5
6. Chasing the Shadow by Karen McCreedy: What would happen if an asteroid was barreling toward Earth and the only people who could stop it were out in space? That's what we find out in this story, in which a spaceship must collide with an asteroid in order to save humanity. While the concept is interesting, I didn't think it was well executed at all and found myself skimming over most of it. I didn't connect with any of the characters or care if their plan succeeded. I guess it just wasn't my cup of tea. 1/5
7. The Face of Entropy by Greg Leunig: We again find ourselves in space, but this time our characters are looking for a new planet after the destruction of Earth. This story deals a lot with the effects of entropy and chaos on everything in the universe, and tries to turn a scientific principle into a sort of creature. Again, an interesting concept, but I think this story was just too short. I wanted to know more about what happened on Earth and what the creatures were and what happens to all the people frozen in the pods. Since this story was lacking for me, I would give it a 2/5.
8. Book in Advance by Cathy Bryant: If you found a book that seemed like it was giving you a glimpse into your future, would you believe it? In this story, our protagonist Trish finds that things may not always be what they seem, and that maybe you shouldn't always believe everything you read. I think it was a very interesting concept, albeit a little far-fetched. Trish isn't really likable, and I never really felt bad for her or her situation. It's her own fault and she deserves what she gets. A 3/5 for this story.
So, overall, the first part of this anthology has an average of just over 2.5/5. I'm hoping the second part has stories that grab my attention more!