I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Fantastic Hope by William McCaskey
Genres: Science Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Fantasy, Private Investigator, Mystery, Military Science Fiction
Published by Berkley Books on April 7, 2020
Source: the library
Buy on Amazon
An anthology of sixteen brand-new sci-fi and fantasy stories that speak to the darkness and despair that life brings while reminding us that good deeds, humor, love, sacrifice, dedication, and following our joy can ignite a light that burns so bright the darkness cannot last.
“Twilight Falls” (Joe Ledger, 10.1)
“Heart of Clay” (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, 6.5??)
“Reprise” (Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter, ??)
“Asil and the Not-date” (Alpha & Omega, 5.5 and Mercyverse, 17.5)
“Zombie Dearest” (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, 26.5)
Jonathan Maberry’s “Twilight Falls”…
…is fascinating — and a little too close to our reality what with bioterrorists. I did love the hopefulness of this tale with those do-gooders! I have got to start reading his Joe Ledger series.
Colonel Joe Ledger (call sign “Outlaw”) had been an Airborne Ranger, Bradley “Top” Sims (call sign “Pappy”), and Harvey “Bunny” Rabbit make up Havoc Team. Mr Church is the adult in any room, and he heads up Rogue Team International, which appears to be based in Phoenix House on Omfori Island in Greece. Doc Joan Holliday is the head of the integrated sciences division; Dr William Hu is the former head. Bug is their IT guy. I think Jake, Wolf, Anderson, Sean, and Rachel are more team members??
Buzz Clark is a Pulitzer-prize-winning photojournalist who provides hot tips. Junie Flynn is Ledger’s lover. Jim Peabody hosts a conspiracy theory radio show. Thabo Mahao and Bongani Jiba are part of a team bent on saving the world. Gunter is their resource guy.
Silentium is a bioterrorist group which wants 90% of the world’s population gone.
Sharon Shinn’s “Not in this Lifetime”…
…was an intriguing mix of fun and confusion in which she keeps trying to change how she dies. Fortunately, the confusion was short-lived, and I did love that twist of an end. I almost cried.
Lili and the heroine are waitresses at Deli-Lishes. Back in 1969, Lili was living with Adam. Armand, Juwan, Sanjay, and Kenny are more employees. And friends. Bill is a customer and a repeat jerk.
Larry Correia’s “Mr. Positive, the Eternal Optimist”…
…was too funny, lol, in a very macabre way. You’ll be as frustrated as Stanley in trying to understand that mugger, Chris, who simply will not stop. And who is simply fascinated by what Stanley’s time period has and doesn’t have. ROFL. On a more serious note, Correia takes advantage of Chris’ perspective to note how truly lucky we are. It’ll make ya think… And yet another happy, very unexpected, ending.
Kacey Ezell’s “No Greater Love”…
…is an historical paranormal tale about love in the dead of winter and the choices people will make to save each other. Sweet with yet another unexpected, happy ending.
Griffin Barber’s “Broken Son”…
…revolves around Sol Boy, a career criminal sentenced to a space mining camp who is our unreliable narrator. I’m seeing it as a metaphor for how our soldiers are cared for once they can no longer fight for the government.
Kevin J. Anderson’s “Heart of Clay”…
…is both sweet and funny and sad. It’s also rather silly with some inconsistencies that didn’t make sense.
Private Investigator Dan “Beaux” Shamble is a zombie. Robin Deyer is Dan’s human lawyer partner at Chambeau & Deyer Investigations. Sheyenne is Dan’s ghost girlfriend and his business manager. Alvina is a ten-year-old vampire girl who is either Dan’s or McGoo’s daughter…they can’t decide which. Officer Toby “McGoo” McGoohan with the Unnatural Quarter PD is Dan’s best human friend.
Mortimer Dred is the king of the Real Renaissance Faire, a faire that has it all. Talbot & Knowles run a blood bar at the faire where Jim and Don are golem employees. Alice is a dragon who performs and has a gambling problem. Noxius is a gremlin purveyor of sharp objects. Rettop the Cavewight is a potter who also administers first aid. Joe is a murdered golem. Art is the golem leader.
John G. Hartness’s “Reprise”…
…has a very noir feel to this tale of demon summoning in a betrayal of those who want to repair the past.
“Sometimes the best of us die to leave us an example … to pull it into focus.”
I get confused over this Renfield-Dracula thing, especially when Hartness talks about uncles and going to see his uncle, Count Dracula, and then he goes to meet Luke. It’s a sad tale and yet with a good point about what life is supposed to be.
Quincy Harker is a literal son of the Jonathan Harker in Stoker’s 1897 Dracula. So how he’s intended to be only 50 years old is beyond me. Count Dracula is Quincy’s uncle. Uncle Lucas “Luke” Card is the current holder of the Renfield title and is based in Jersey City, these days. Luke also created the Shadow Council and Quincy is part of it.
Anna Treves had been the first true love of Quincy’s life, and she was murdered in France in 1943 by a Nazi colonel. Rosalyn Reismann is Jewish and had had family who died in World War II. Edgar had been a cousin who died in one of the camps. Gerald.
Zippo Guy, Jacob, and Jerry are part of the dark coven attempting to summon Lord Raguel. Hiram and Rosalyn are also part of the coven. Abbadon, formerly known as Muriel who had guarded Eden, and Belial are demons.
Patricia Briggs’ “Asil and the Not-date”…
…finds Asil the Moore dealing with a band of pranksters — some Concerned Friends — who have set him up on a not-dating site as a Christmas gift. There are all sorts of rules, and I can see why no one is betting on Asil to fulfill the goal, lol. On this date, there’s a rescue with a surprise twist at the end…and you’ll end up laughing.
Asil “the Moore” Moreno is a very, very old wolf who specializes in roses. Asil’s son rules his old pack in Europe. Mariposa (Cry Wolf, 2) had been Asil’s foster daughter who became a black witch. The Marrok is the Alpha wolf for all werewolves in North America.
Tami Reed is a social worker in Spokane and loves her plants. Chris, a cop, is Tami’s ex-boyfriend. Joshua is fifteen and lives in his own apartment; his two much younger sisters still live with their mom, Helen.
Aaron Marks was part of that second date, but not damaged by Asil. Carter lives in Billings. Phoebe is in Spokane, loves lilacs, and has a business downtown. Plantophiles is a not-dating site.
Robert E. Hampson’s “In the Dust”…
…covers quite a bit of time, introducing us to the two protagonists and whizzing us through their lives in a mass of tell. There sure isn’t much in the way of love although there is support.
Winnie “Winn” is a young boy fascinated by history who grows up to become a supervising master machinist at Armstrong Tool and Die…and then much more. Jenny Harriman is the young girl who likes Winnie who grows up to establish an experimental plot, the Garden of Eatin’. Grace and Mary are their children. Her father is an ambitious lawyer. Chris is a contemporary of theirs. Kubric is mayor until Harriman succeeds him. Dr Edwin Aldrin Wright (with three degrees) builds up Wright Fabrication, which becomes the single biggest driver of Armstrong’s economy. Melliere Corp does agricultural genetics.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr’s “Fallen”…
…is a series of tests: faith versus knowledge, as Estafen drops into different scenarios in which he must argue for knowledge. The arguments for faith are interesting, and thank goodness that Estafen’s counterarguments always sound better! It read like a metaphor for our own world, although that second to the last paragraph was kind of spooky.
It’s kind of weird with its Go-Captain and Stop-Captain.
Patrick M. Tracy’s “Working Conditions”…
…is a weird paranormal and leaves me with questions at the end. It’s also a metaphor for our own racist world, as Sam becomes different, which translates into bigotry against him. Delia Castleman owns a convenience store.
M.C. Sumner’s “Last Contact”…
…is a science fiction tale that totally bypasses a “first contact”. I gotta say this sounds a lot more realistic than most of those first contact stories, especially the way we’re destroying our own planet.
What I found most interesting was George‘s agreeing with Dr Fetherstonhaugh that the aliens showing up at all will cause disruption to earth.
William McCaskey’s “Ronin”…
…is a title for Bear, given him by the Sandman. He’s meant to champion the child to whom he’s given, Emily, and ride her dreams while battling her nightmares. Bear originally belonged to Jason, Emily’s father, and without knowing it, Emily helps her father battle his own nightmares. This is so sad and makes me weep, and yet there’s that hope again at the end.
Michael Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker’s “Skjoldmodir”…
…plays off the legend of Grendel and Beowulf, as we follow the female protagonist through her life and her trials as she attempts to raise her disabled son, Grendel.
Monalisa Foster’s “Bonds of Love and Duty”…
…is yet another sad tale…with hope at the end. It’s a typical government program. Kill off the beings they’ve used to win their war.
Laurell K. Hamilton’s “Zombie Dearest”…
…has a sting in the tail for Anita! Although, I’m not sure what the cannibalism has to do with the ardeur Jean-Claude is speculating about. It’s cute that Anita discovers Jean-Claude’s need to fuss to deal with stress.
Anita Blake is a US Marshal with the Preternatural Division. She’s engaged to Jean-Claude, the vampire Master of the City of St Louis. Belle Morte, the vampire with lust as one of her powers and who created Jean-Claude, is based in Europe. Mary is the daytime receptionist at Animators, Inc where Bert Vaughn is their greedy business manager. Sergeant Zerbrowski is the messy cop who is usually Anita’s unofficial partner with the Regional Preternatural Investigation Taskforce. He was there that night at Thomas’ gravesite. Katie is Zerbrowski’s neat wife. Nicky Murdock, a lionshifter, is one of Anita’s bodyguards as well as her Bride.
Herman and Julie Henderson are the parents of Justine who fell in love with Thomas Warrington, a zombie in Dead Ice, 24, two years ago and got pregnant. Harold Ramon works at the crematorium. Robbie Curtis is the creepy buyer.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a deep twilight and a lonely road curving into the distance. The sky is filled with stars including a shooting star. The text begins with an info blurb in lime green about the first editor. Below that the two editors (who are also authors) are listed at the top in white. Immediately below it on the left, in a centered stack, is an info blurb promoting two of the short stories within in a combination of royal blue and black. The title is below center in white with an info blurb below that in a lime green that continues into a white font of the more prominent authors with an “and more” following in the lime green.
The title is what every story offers, a Fantastic Hope.