Dark Currents, edited by Ian Whates

The authors who contributed to this anthology were given two words, “Dark Currents” with which to create a story.  Most came back with stories involving space, the sea, or electricity.  It’s a diverse collection of stories, some quite good, others less so.  There’s an art to writing a good short story.  The authors in this collection used two different approaches.  Some had complete, self-contained stories.  Others were complete stories, but served more as preludes to what could be, and in some cases I hope are, full-length novels.  I enjoy both kinds.

Alternate Currents, by Rod Rees was one of the standouts.  A period piece involving Nicholas Tesla and a mysterious object from space.  A fun stand-alone story and one that could spawn more stories or a full-length novel.

Loose Connections was another story that served as a prelude to what could be a longer story.  While it was quite good as far as it went, it stopped more than concluded.  Where Rod Rees wrapped up his story while leaving a world ripe for further adventures, this story felt unresolved.

The Barricade by Nina Allen was another standout.  It impressively created a nuanced character and a very atmospheric mood.

The Bleeding Man by Aliette de Bodard was also a cut above the rest.  A well-developed main character and very interesting story.

Things that Are Here Now by Andrew Hook was one of my least favorites.  The author seemed more interested in coming up with clever metaphors than telling a story.  Some of the metaphors worked, most didn’t.

The rest of the stories were a mixed bag.  A variety of moods that did a good job of sticking to the theme.  The sum result is some very good stories and some pretty mediocre ones.  All in all, an enjoyable collection.  I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of the book.


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