Saturday, 2 February 2013

A High Shrill Thump: War Stories, edited by Juliana Rew

A collection of short SFF stories on the theme of 'War,' published in 2012 by Third Flatiron Publishing .

The Man Who Couldn't Die by David L. Felts. A new recruit finds himself fighting a war as part of a Marine squad which never suffered any casualties; but there is a price to be paid.

Comrade at Arms by Gustavo Bondoni. The Etruscans are getting squeezed between the Romans and the Eluveitie, but they have a special weapon; the undead fight for them. That's a huge advantage - most of the time.

Angel by K. R. Cairns. The female warriors are sent into battle from their orbiting home, dropping cleansing fire on their unseen enemies on the ground. But when one of them crash-lands, perspectives change.

Grins and Gurgles (Flash Fiction): The Rocketeer by John Harrower. A brief surreal snapshot written as a parody of Biggles; an RFC rocket-man hunts the Red Baron.

Refugees by James S. Dorr. A medieval army advances on the enemy castle, driving refugees before them. But not all of the refugees help their cause.

The Home Front by David Turner. A soldier returns home from the war, but he's not a fighter - his job is to dream of future events. The problem is that his dreams include his private life too.

The Fixer by Jack Skelter. Life in a Vietnamese prison was no fun for a US prisoner of war, until help came from an unexpected quarter. A light and humorous tale.

A Childproof War by Lon Prater. An alien Early Death plague kills all human beings as soon as they reach puberty, so the children continue the war. But what are they fighting for?

The Frontline Is Everywhere by Michael Trudeau. A bizarre tale of the relationships between neighbours who build bomb shelters in preparation for the Big One.

Half a Century Later at a Mid-Earth Pub by Tom Sheehan. A poetic story of an annual meeting of Korean War veterans.

Homeland Security by Brenda Kezar. Local residents find a novel but somewhat dubious way to limit the cross-border incursions and make money at the same time.

In the Blink of an Eye by Nick Johnson. The grim aftermath of a nuclear war, in which only a few can be saved.

I Think I Won by David J. Williams. A different aftermath of a nuclear war, with the descendents of the survivors fighting on in a devastated North America.

This is an eclectic mix of stories covering all periods and including SF, fantasy and horror genres, also ranging from the humorous to the unremittingly grim: the theme of warfare is their only link. They are also all quite short, limiting the scope for character and plot development. It is difficult for me to pick favourites from such a collection, but (unusually for me) the horror story by Bondoni made the strongest impression.


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