Science fiction blended with inter-species romance; this is the premise for Mercurio D Rivera's Looking for Langalana - a tale told through a protagonist on a witness stand. Shimera, a Wergen, tells her story to an emissary: the son of a human named Phinny she once loved. Although a little too quixotic, I enjoyed the tale. With strange mating rituals on the Wergen's part, descriptive language of their beguiling anatomies, and a pesky native of Langalana that cannot be tamed, it's a worthy opener.
Haunting and lyrical, Tim Akers The Song is like a short poem for the soul. For me it speaks of metamorphosis, of transcendence. A gifted musician in a futuristic society where music is on the fringe, Jack has been struggling to capture a life's dream through music: the ultimate melody that plays like a discordant baritone, but one he finds impossible to capture with his current instrument and audience. Enlisting the help of a complicated creature, one that could ultimately give birth to The Song, Jack soon realizes the dream.
A tale that inspires research: that's pretty much the best thing I can say about Martin J Gidron's Palestina. If you're unfamiliar with Middle Eastern politics in the years after Hitler's death, then I doubt Palestina will hold much allure. Earning its place here on the merit of being alternate history, Girdon's message (if there is one) is obscure. Protagonist Palestina, a Jewish concentration camp inmate, is swept up in the intrigue of a Russian infiltrator and a Rabbi who is more than he appears.
Whilst boasting the most imaginative illustration in this story collection, The Rising Tide by Australia's C.A.L is a piece probably better suited to a novel. The opening is a treat. Tied with the art, it evokes a true ultramodern landscape:
Beneath the night-clad sky of a golden colonized globe, Raleigh Marsonnet walked the light-swept roads as any Free-born citizen might do ...
After this (for me, at least) it kind of falls apart. That's not to say it's un-readable, but C.A.L has constructed a vast mythology, one hard to digest without repeat readings. In this future, The United Starion Republic will activate a weapon resulting in a rebellious world cut off. A code has gone missing, and Raleigh Marsonnet must return to the world and woman he betrayed.
Another story that would shine in novel length is Summers End by Jamie Barras. Jamie imagines a world where the whole population of earth wakes up simultaneously five months after a comatose period. Said period was caused by 'hijackers'; unknown entity's that decided to take up residence in humanity's collective skull. It's a scary scenario, as possession in the genre of sci-fi has always been hard to tackle. However, the story is not global, and primarily centers on a domestic issue. One gets the feeling Barras is not done with this universe.
Lastly, we have the winner of the James White award: A Short History Of The Dream Library by Elizabeth Hopkinson. This one's a gem: fiction packaged as neatly as the title suggests, and interspersed with laugh-out-load moments. Set in England, the tale of Milton Bissit and his addictive dream involving a 'Hindi speaking goblin' falls into the realm of classic. If Elizabeth continues to work, her name could potentially be used in the same sentence as Douglas Adams.