Thursday, April 30, 2020

Fantastic Hope ~ Edited by Laurell K. Hamilton & William McCaskey

A collection of sixteen sci-fi and fantasy stories edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton and author William McCaskey.

A child’s wish for her father comes true. The end of the world has never been so much fun. Conquering personal demons becomes all too real. It’s not always about winning; sometimes it’s about showing up for the fight. It’s about loving your life’s work, and jobs that make you question everything.

In this anthology, seventeen authors have woven together brand-new stories that speak to the darkness and despair that life brings while reminding us that good deeds, humor, love, sacrifice, dedication, and following our joy can ignite a light that burns so bright the darkness cannot last.

Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey are joined by Kevin J. Anderson, Griffin Barber, Patricia Briggs, Larry Correia, Kacey Ezell, Monalisa Foster, Robert E. Hampson, John G. Hartness, Jonathan Maberry, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Jessica Schlenker, Sharon Shinn, M.C. Sumner, Patrick M. Tracy, and Michael Z. Williamson in this collection.

Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Berkley (Paperback)

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Spoiler-Free Review

This won't be a comprehensive review of the content, simply because a small rundown of the plots would pretty much spoil most of the short stories, giving too much information away.

Fantastic Hope is an anthology of 16 short stories by different authors, each featuring the science fiction genre.

Laurell K. Hamilton (LKH) is one of my all-time favorite authors, the Anita Blake series at the top of my reread list. I was thrilled to read even the smallest of short stories in that universe, so I jumped at the chance to read Fantastic Hope. Other than LKH, Patricia Briggs is the only other author I've ever read previously. Both of their short stories were familiar to me, like a homecoming by seeing some of my favorite characters. I actually read the Anita Blake short twice, simply because it was nice to read something new in that universe.

Enjoying the anthology, I read about two shorts per day on average, trying to draw out the experience. Stepping away helped so that I didn't get the stories mixed up, and gave me time to research the author. Some of the stories were a massive hit for me, whetting my appetite to go back and search out the universe in which the story was born. Others were so-so, but still captured my interest to check out the author's backlist, simply because I was unfamiliar with their worlds.

Highly recommended. All in all, even if you're only familiar with one or two authors in the anthology, Fantastic Hope is a great opportunity to discover other science fiction authors, just a small taste of their writing style and the worlds they've created.

As a slightly crazed Laurell K. Hamilton fan, I had really high hopes for this anthology but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

I’m honestly not sure how much of my ambivalent reaction to this collection is because of the actual stories or to the fact that I was quite unwell while reading and found it difficult to concentrate at times. I’m quite reluctant for anyone to be guided by my personal response to the anthology but I will try to outline some of my reservations.

Firstly, this collection of stories is a mashup of genres and I’m not sure the mix is completely successful. While I love Patricia Briggs’ and Laurell K Hamilton’s Urban Fantasy, I’m not a huge science fiction fan and I have to be in the right mood for action thrillers and philosophical diatribes.

I also worry that the timing of this collection isn’t brilliant. The first story is about a special ops team racing to prevent a pandemic – and I read it while quite ill from the pandemic that no one was able to stop. The preface talks about a collection of hopeful stories but the only stories I’m currently managing to engage with are fluffy romcoms – and I know I’m not alone. I found the violent action in too many of these stories difficult and some of the hope seemed quite intangible and ephemeral.

The preface also explains that this is a collection of stories by a mix of new and established writers. Usually, I love collections like this because I fall in love with at least one new writer. That didn’t happen here. I enjoyed Briggs’ and Hamilton’s stories but failed to engage with most of the others. I really couldn’t follow the story about Estefan and the battle between knowledge and belief and it took me ages to understand what was going on in the one about the teddy bear and the soldier with PTSD. I was thoroughly confused by the futuristic space adventure that doesn’t offer any real introduction or world building at the start. Again, I read this with a fever so some of my responses can be attributed to my addled brain.

Ultimately, while this anthology didn’t work for me, I hope the collection connects with other readers. As reviewers, we often sign up for books months ahead and have a limited window in which to read them before publication. I really wouldn’t have chosen to read this book during the past two weeks and I’m very aware that I might have engaged better with it at a different time.

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Fantastic Hope ~ Edited by Laurell K. Hamilton & William McCaskey to read and review.

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