Stranded – an Anthology with Anne Bishop – a Review
Stranded is a Sci-Fi anthology, with three authors. Since Anne Bishop is one of the authors, I decided I had to read this, even if I do not read much Sci-Fi. But I love everything written by Anne. I will start with her story first, and give a brief synopsis of the other two.
A Strand in the Web by Anne Bishop
New York Times Bestselling Fantasy Author Anne Bishop makes her U.S. debut in Science Fiction with this engaging futuristic novella. The Restorers travel the universe fulfilling a purpose handed down through the generations. They live and die aboard city-ships, never knowing the worlds they create and save. What begins as a disastrous training exercise in creating and balancing ecosystems becomes an unexpected fight for survival. The only hope may be the secret project of an untried Restorer team.
At first when I started to read this, I wasn’t sure what it was about. It starts in a classroom environment with about 8 young people working on computers. They work together, each doing their own part, trying to bring balance to the land that they are assigned to. Each person specializes in different types of items, such as trees, deer, grass, seeds, carnivores, etc.
The heroine of this story is Willow, and she handles the trees to help bring life and balance to the lands. Since this a class, with young people, it doesn’t take long to see that jealousy will ruin their project, as some other girls in the class are jealous of Willow and her ability to keep things in balance, as well as the boy who likes Willow.
They all live on a ship, under the domain of the Restorers, who do fix all lands to keep them in balance, but they never leave the ship. This has gone on for thousands of years, as they restore balance to lands to make up for Atonement to the Blessed All.
While working on her assignment, Willow notices a piece of land that is a Restorers land, which is now free. Since no one was using it, Willow put in a claim for the land. Much to her surprise, she is granted that piece of land, which is huge. Willow thinks this was a mistake, but she privately begins to work on the land to try to bring it in balance, and she asks one of her classmates, Stev, who is the boy who likes her, to help her. They do not tell anyone else. The land begins to prosper, slowly coming to balance. Willow learns that the lead Restorer, Britt, who stepped down, is the one who gave up the land. But Britt sees something in Willow, and begins to help.
At that point we learn that all the ships are slowly falling apart, and then there was only one ship left. Willow and everyone knows they will die. But Willow keeps working on the land, bringing two more of her friends to help, adding all elements, all animals, all things to keep the land livable and in balance. But as in most cases, secrets do get out, and one of the jealous troublemakers exposes them.
Willow has matured, is totally sure of herself, she is very self confident, and is willing to take chances. Willow believes the Blessed All has given her the ability to do what must be done. The ending was very nice, and I really enjoyed this story. There is no action, adventure in this story, but it is a well written and very interesting book, which comes as no surprise, as Anne Bishop is an awesome writer, and she makes this story work.
Stranded by Anthony Francis
Popular urban fantasy writer Anthony Francis explores the clash of ethics and survival when a young, genetically engineered centauress from the ultra-advanced Alliance lays claim to a rare, strategic garden planet, only to find herself captured by a band of rag-tag Frontier refugees who’ve crashed their vintage ship on her unexpectedly hostile world.
On the edge, all things are possible…
This turned out to be a very good story also, even though the first few pages had me somewhat confused as to what was happening. It begins with a ship that is beginning to fail, a group of young boys and girls, who cannot get along running that ship, and also about a wonderful Centauress from an advanced planet. How do they meet? It’s a long story, but worth to read. The ship crashes, the Centauress was traveling on an adventure of her own, came to that planet where they were just crashing. All hell brakes loose, and the sides are chosen. Serependity is the Centauress, and she is great. It becomes a fight of what is right and wrong; of good vs bad; a chance to build and do it right. I enjoyed this short story by Anthony Francis.
House of Leeches by James Alan Gardner
Award winning author James Alan Gardner pens a wonderfully imaginative tale, in which a young woman wakes to find herself the sole human on an orbiting, mechanical space station. To find a way home, she must navigate the dangerous politics of war between opposing robot leaders.
This book picked up immediately with a young girl awakening to find herself alone, in what looks like a military hospital. In time she discovers she is on another planet, where things that are dangerous, unused, are thrown away to this planet. Many war robots are on the planet. The girl, Alyssa, finds out that Earth was badly decimated by a plague. Since she is one that was infected, they shipped her and some others to the faraway planet. Alyssa finds some other humans frozen, and discovers that she is beginning to recover. Was she the guinea pig, to discover a cure? This was different type of story, with all the other characters being robots, and Alyssa the only human, other then those frozen. It was interesting story, having robots help her, and finding out the surprise cure.
Overall, I felt this was a nice quick read, and always enjoy anything by Anne Bishop. I may not have read this book without her being part of this anthology. I found it interesting, different for me, as I am not really a Sci-fi reader, but i did enjoy reading it. If you like Sci-fi, and want a quick fast read, then read this book.
Reviewed by Barb
Copy provided by Publisher