The first story is amazing. The Near-Sighted Sentinel by Adam King is the tale of a superhero dealing with ageing and failure. The Sentinel has to face loss of status and recognition and then finally to face up to not having made a difference. It is incredibly well written and structured. I was totally absorbed and might even read it again.
Time Out by David Siegel Bernstein deals with a complex future society and packs in a lot of worldbuilding. I think the story, one of the disillusionment of the main character, suffers a little for it. Most of the dialogue is exposition and little time is given over to characterisation. I like the idea and the worldbuilding is fascinating. Given the space of a novel, with time to explore the technology and economics and develop convincing characters, this could be really good.
I wasn’t as keen on the third story, Murder at the Tipsy Minotaur by Marie Robertson. The magical fantasy community created feels more like a checklist than sense of place and the characters come across as quite flat. The reveal at the end is done Poirot-style and that’s handled quite well. I liked the title.
Dead Men Don’t Drive by Timothy Friend is a zombie story. I’m not a fan of zombies, especially the shuffling, groaning variety, but this was quite good. The narrator is a not-so innocent bystander to a bigger crime – the details of which are left in shadows. I like that the author resisted the temptation to explain what was going on. It’s worth a read.
It takes a while for Dead Hands by Jason Rolfe to get going. The plot is quite tense with the main character in a lot of danger for most of the story, but somehow the emotional tension doesn’t come across. I never get the sense that she’s really scared. I liked the ending though. It had a nice twist and maintained the pace of the story.
The last story, The Eyes that Catch by Bruce Bretthauer, wasn’t as enjoyable as some of the others. The writing side of things is mostly good, except for a tendency to infodump. It was more the characterisation and stereotypical gender representation that put me off. The characters weren’t very well differentiated or particularly developed. The narrator felt more like a man with female parts than a female character.
So, this issue has been a bit up and down, but there’s a couple of real gems.