Fast Forward Book Review for November 2007
Lawrence M. Schoen and Michael Livingston
Philadephia, Pa. : Paper Golem, 2007
A review by
Colleen R. Cahill
All small presses are a labor of love. The owners rarely expect to make money at these ventures: their aim is to create something special. In Prime Codex, from the new publisher Paper Golem, this goal is definitely met, with an excellent collection of stories from a wide range of genres. It is hard not to feel the love that went into this book; editors Lawrence Schoen and Michael Livingston are to be congratulated for bringing this new anthology to our hands.
In the introduction, Luc Reid describes the Codex, an online writers group for authors of some experience, those who could be described as "neo-pros and soon to be pros." The authors in this anthology all belong to the Codex and some might be familiar to you, as these works have all appeared in other publications. Unless you are a voracious genre reader, some of these stories will be new to you and there is a bit of every type of genre in this collection. In James Maxey#39;s "To the East, a Bright Star" we enter a surreal future where one man is facing Armageddon in his own quirky style. In contrast is Cat Rambo#39;s "Ticktock Girl" which gives us glimpses of a mechanical woman who goes from marching in suffragette parades to fighting crime. Other stories look into the past, delving into the realm of secret history. "The Man With Great Despair Behind His Eyes", by Ken Scholes, gives a new reason why Jefferson sent Merriweather Lewis to explore the Louisiana Territory, one tied to a 1971 twenty dollar bill. Geoffrey Girard#39;s "Wizard#39;s Encore" takes a fascinating look at the visit by French magician Jean Robert-Houdin to Algeria and his fateful meeting with the son of a tribal leader. There are also tales of fantasy, such as Elaine Isaak#39;s "The Disenchantment of Kivron Ox-Master", where a young man with the power to bring intelligence to animals is challenged to do so with the bones of a dragon. Jim C. Hines mines the fairy tale "Briar Rose" in his dark exploration of religion and loyalty in "Sister of the Hedge". These samples of some of the fifteen stories in this book shows the broad range of themes in this volume. Whether you prefer science fiction, fantasy, or any other genre, there is a tale in here that you will find enthralling.
Prime Codex does a splendid job of living up to its subtitle, "The Hungry Edge of Speculative Fiction," gathering a set of gifted authors and very well written stories. I was lucky enough to have one of the editors bring this volume to my attention and I want to share this wealth of great writing with you. While you might not find this on the shelves of your bookstore, it is easily obtainable online and Prime Codex, which shows the love of its creators, is definitely worth hunting down.