Planetary Anthology: Mercury by John C. Wright, Benjamin Wheeler, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Corey McCleery, Joshua M. Young, J.D. Beckwith, Bokerah Brumley, Lou Antonelli, Declan Finn, Misha Burnett, A.M. Freeman, Dawn Witzke, David Hallquist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Firstly, I must state for the record that I am an author in this anthology.
Secondly, I also state that the opinions expressed in this review are mine alone, and are mostly for my own remembrance of the stories. I do this with all anthologies I read (and books, too). My reviews of individual stories sometimes contain spoilers, so read them at your own risk if you have not yet read the book.
As a summary, I can say that this anthology was definitely worth the five star rating. No, I didn’t think every story was a five star, but enough of them were to justify the overall rating. I’m not rating them individually because I am a co-author. I will simply state that none are less than three stars for me, with several fours and fives.
Don’t read further if you are worried about spoilers. I try not to, but it is difficult with short stories. Plus, this is intended for me to remember with, and other interested parties to compare notes.
In the Palace of Promised Immortality by John C. Wright
Wright’s story is very deep. It took me a moment to figure out what was going on with the MC, but once I did, things became clearer. The deeper meaning is the overlay of the Christian concepts of Grace, Predestination & Free Will. Also, the concept of Purgatory being a causality loop in a time paradox was astounding. I will admit to stopping two or three times just to boggle at the allegorical weaving that this story entailed. It is a masterpiece.
Schubert to Rachmaninoff by Benjamin Wheeler
Unfortunately, this tale didn’t relly do it for me. I have read one other of Wheeler’s short stories, and thought it was quite good. It started off on a low note because I instantly hated the MC because I don’t like cocky braggarts. Then, I didn’t find the reasons for the necessity of his dangerous delivery to be believable. There were some other issues I had, but the nail in the coffin was a physics oversight. (Lack of an atmosphere means there can’t be a vacuum that sucks in dust and the MC’s bike). Not wanting to be all negative (my grumpy nerd side is showing a bit), I will say that it was full of vividly painted scenery, and there’s definitely a good writing style with plenty of action to be had. Wheeler writes well, I just didn’t like this particular story.
The Element of Transformation by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Lamplighter’s story is another fantastic tale. The son of Prospero the Magician gets thrown into prison where he runs across Mercury (the god). A loss from his past prevents him from acting in motivated self-interest until Mercury shows him some things from another perspective. It is complex, derives a bit from history and the real world while weaving in the mystical. Amazingly, the MC actually has growth, even within the confines of a short story. The ending was terrific, unexpected, and uplifting.
In Tower of the Luminious Sages by Corey McCleery
This was a very vivid tale of Oriental Empires and Ancient Dragon-Gods. A young female thief gets more than she expects when she tries to rob a tower with magical significance. She discovers a truth about her own origins and reveals a truth that can save an Empire. Well written and highly descriptive, this story paints its images on the theatre of your mind that almost paint by number in its exactness. You almost have no choice but to see what is described. Gripping and had a good ending.
The Haunted Mines of Mercury by Joshua M. Young
A scary tale that is but a glimpse of a much larger world and universe. While investigating strange occurrences in a mine on Mercury, the MC must face ghost/demons left behind… in the distance past of the planet, and in the recent past of his own heart. The main action scene in this story are pulse-pounding, and the lead it is spot on for tension building. Bravo, Mr. Young!
Quicksilver by J.D. Beckwith <– Hey, I know this guy! 🙂
I enjoyed writing this story, and spent way more time designing the Chariot of Helios in my head than I should have. I hope you like it too.
Ancestors Answer by Bokerah Brumley
A Japanese woman whose family honor has been completely tarnished by the action of her descendants is given the power and responsibility to go back to the land of the living to correct it.
Last Call by Lou Antonelli
Mercury’s core has been mined out to make a space fleet to protect humanity. An old hand of forty years has known nothing but ore hauling. Now that it’s done, he stays behind to close out the books. This one is very shy on character development, even for a short. It’s meant to be a sympathy torque, but it missed the mark for me because I didn’t connect with the MC.
Deceptive Appearances by Declan Finn
Two rough and tumble detectives stop a weapons dealer on Mercury, but only one of them knows the full score… because where would be the fun if they both did? Nice detective noir style story that’s self-contained and fun.
mDNA by Misha Burnett
A genetic courier and artificial insemination expert makes house-calls for the few remaining reproductive people on a dying Earth. I was a bit put off by this one, as it was a bit depressing and kind of an icky subject matter. Good writing though.
The Star of Mercury by A.M. Freeman
An entrepreneurial inventor with money woes is stranded on Mercury with a sickly daughter he needs to get back home to Earth for treatment. A jealous and disreputable nemesis keeps stealing his work. This story was amazing. It made me SO MAD at the bad guy I could have spit! I loved the ending!
Cucurbita Mercurias by Dawn Witzke
Devotion to achieving fame leads a terraforming botanist’s work on Mercury to a dark place when sweat and tears are no longer enough. Short, but oh so dark!
The Wanderer by David Hallquist
A failed attempt to seed a newborn solar system with life leaves a sentient ship lost and alone for eternity. A mystery in Mercury’s depths brings one man face to face with what could be mankind’s greatest discovery. Epic in thought and scope, this story is by far my favorite of the anthology. I hope for a sequel or expansion.