FIVE TO THE FUTURE: All New Novelettes of Tomorrow and Beyond
UNO!.. DOS! ONE-TWO! TRES! QUATRO! by Ernest Hogan
A counter-culture figure from the wrong side of the tracks escorts a tabloid journalist through the barrio. When a riot breaks out they flee in his batmobile-like car to the secret lair of his scientist mother where they encounter a pyramid from outer space. Poking fun at xenophobia and linear thinking, Uno is an invitation to peel back the reality-mask of linear thinking and embrace the mutual contradictions and chaos of poetry. A theme Hogan seems fond of.
QUEEN OF THE CATS by Emily Davenport
Jean is the sole survivor of alien invaders. She adopts all the now-orphaned cats of the neighborhood. She is in turn "adopted" by Vad, one of the invaders. When these invaders are defeated by the lizard people, Vad, now sole survivor of his race, flees back to Jean, and she pleads for her life and his. The lizard person lets them live, and also leaves her a supply of cat food.
Moral: Taking care of others engenders empathy which decreases genocide, or, Cats are the universal solvent!
FOLLOW YOUR DREAM by Cynthia Ward
Set in a private Japanese girls school, there's the jealous, spoiled, rich brat; the girl who, in a hilarious and inspired bit of utterly delicious silliness, talks really loudly- like loud enough to shatter windows!, and is really a long-lost princess of the dragon riders; and her BFF who possesses superhero abilities and is really the orphaned daughter of the hovering spaceships. This is an homage to Japanese anime, very funny and one of my favorites!
DREAMWEAVER by Arthur Byron
Chess is a cynical cop working missing persons. A thankless and doomed exercise in futility in a world where people jump in time and place, intentionally or inadvertently, leaving no followable trail. A chance encounter places in his hand a magical talisman that leads the world-weary detective to discover, eventually, his own destiny.
WRITTEN ON RIBS by M. CHRISTIAN
Soviet-era Russians disseminate bootleg, illegal recording of western music on old X-ray films. Something I did not know and find fascinating! But as in all "prohibitions," this life-affirming demand is filled by for-profit criminals. Ribs does a wonderful job of conveying the sense of living under a repressive regime, the mundane and routine pettiness of it, and how repression rolls downhill.
The writing in Five to the Future is of uniformly excellent and pleasing quality, and although the editor put no thematic constraints upon the contributors, this seems a thematically cohesive collection to me. Not in the sense of "grey-quadrupeds-piloting-space-freighters" but more in feeling. With the exception of Hogan's story there is a certain nostalgia to the pieces, a wistfulness; and in all the stories humor is an element, sometimes crucially so. And Strange Particle Press has produced an excellent cover for the anthology.
The high quality of the book is marred by lapses in the proofreading (missing words, extra words, wrong words....), which are inexcusable, but few enough in number they can be overlooked by speculative fiction readers who will surely enjoy these talented writers and their deserving stories. Recommended.
(Disclaimer: Strange Particle Press also publishes Jody.)
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