Cower not, fierce reader! I am safely returned from LibertyCon and have already begun my readings from the weekend. This is one regret of my con: I neglected to grab a copy and get the authors there to sign it. But, there's plenty here to digest, so let's get to the feast!
The book opens with a well written Preface by Chris Kennedy, and a Foreword by Chuck Gannon. Both are engaging and fun, but Gannon knows we aren't there for him, so get on to the stories.
The Last Alpha by Mark Wandrey- This is an interesting tale of a long delayed return home. There's gangs, corruption, and urban renewal at its finest. Complete with a family reunion of sorts.
Breach of Contract by Terry Mixon- A little story of revenge, espionage, and sibling rivalry. This is the first story we see the Peacemakers appear.
Paint the Sky by Jason Cordova- Mr. Cordova knocks it out of the park with a story of a desperate merc company with few resources and fewer men, just starting out. It turns to a more personal story as the mercs learn the true extent of the protection mission, becoming a matter of honor.
Surf and Turf by Jon R. Osborne- Here we meet Bjorn and his Berserkers, filling a garrison contract on a pleasant ocean world that has a lot of species on it, including a sizable human community. It opens with a glimpse of daily life, that is, boredom.Then we get a lovely invasion attempt by giant crabs. There's some cool backstory as well.
Stand on It by Kevin Ikenberry- We've got a story of a failing company, the Marauders, getting in over their heads. The company's fate is delivered by the past, and the future of the company is sealed. Looking forward to Peacemaker, his first novel in the horsemen universe.
Lost and Found by Jon Del Arroz- We've got a company without a CASPer on an unexplored planet. They run into some undocumented settlers, and end up in a race to save both their own and the settlers from the fury of a mini monstrosity.
Gilded Cage by Kacy Ezell- We've an assassin, a druggie xenobiologist, and the depths one will go through in curiosity and recovery.
Legends by Christopher Woods- It's a series of scenes from the career of a merc leaving the life. A series of highlights of a combat legend, leaving a wake of corpses behind. Looks like it links to the future of another, bigger company, as well.
With the Eagles by Doug Dandridge- A pair of missions by a small company hired to rescue hostages from an alien group.
Dead or Alive by PP Corcoran- We've another Peacemaker story, this one being more of a bounty hunter nature.
Hide and Seek by Chris Nuttall- We've one of the more standout stories here, with a spy evading pursuit shipboard to arrive on planet. The ship's captain has to stand in her way, as well as the way of the alien ambassador demanding her arrest.
Information Overload by Charity Ayres- A story of a small ship encountering mishaps on a data delivery run. Expectations and prejudices are met, and the challenge of whom to trust is put in the path of the commander.
Enough by Chris Kennedy- A tale of a contract gone bad, implacable enemies, honor, and facing bad situations.
CASPer's Ghost by Brad Torgersen- Another mystery planet, this one the target of a hunt for fuel sources. We've got an experimental AI that's more than it seems, and a lot of unanswered questions.
A few closing words about this anthology: It's VERY mil sf. Many of these authors have served, and bring that aspect to their writings. As a result, it's more difficult for some of these to standout among the crowd, and easier for the less military pieces, by contrast. My personal favorites were Paint the Sky, Lost and Found, Surf and Turf, Legends and Hide and Seek. I did enjoy all of the stories, but these had a more personal feel to them.
8 of 10 fell deeds
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.