Overall Rating of Anthology: 2.5 Stars ★★★☆☆
All the stories in this anthology are set in the Asia-Pacific region. There are science fiction stories, fantasy stories, some that are a little bit of both and some that read like fairy talkes.
I loved that this was an anthology that focussed on the Asia-Pacific region. However, the quality of the stories varied greatly. Many were really, really short. So short, that they read more like fragments and less like stories. Others could have used another round of editing. And some were really beautiful. Overall, it was a mixed bag which did not rise to my expectations.
Read on for a detailed review of the stories in this anthology.
The Donor – Brett Adams
Three twelve-year-old boys, one blind, one deaf and one incapable of feeling, start to see, hear and feel snatches of a strange man’s life. A man who is missing.
I really liked the idea, but I would have preferred it if there had been more mystery, more tension as to what happened to the man who gifted the boys his senses.
Moon Rabbit – Jo Wu
The Moon Rabbit lives a boring existence on the moon, forever grinding the elixir of life for Chang’e, who lives on the moon. She longs for something else, to be human and walk on earth. When the Dragon grants her wish, life on earth is not as she expected.
This short story blends classical fairy tale with robots and spaceships. I liked the overall feel of the story, though I wish it had gone into more detail.
Operation Tiba 2049 – Kris Williamson
A volcano is about to blow up Kuala Lumpur and the only way out is a state-sponsored lottery.
I think this one was way too short. We don’t get to know the characters in any depth so their fate doesn’t really have the emotional impact it should have.
Target: Heart – Recle Etino Vibal
Damien is an apprentice for the agency and he has one last hit to perform before he can gain immortality. The problem: he loves his target.
I liked the idea but the language was rough. There were quite a few mistakes that made it difficult to thoroughly enjoy the story.
Dreams – Tabitha Sin
The world as we know it is no more and people have rebuilt cities floating in the sky. A woman uses a new drug that enables lucid dreaming to dream of her lover who died of a terrible disease.
This is a very poetic story and disquieting at the same time, mainly because of the descriptions of the disease, which are horrible. But the love between these two women was really sweet and sad.
Bumbye! Said the Candelarios – Ailia Hopkins
A girl. A shopkeeper. A group of candelarios. And the day the ocean retreated, to be frozen in a giant wave threatening forever to engulf the island.
I didn’t get this story. The characters weren’t connected at all. They appeared and disappeared. Then there’s this enormous wave and some kind of sea witch but we don’t know anything about her. Just confusing.
Kitsune – KZ Morano
He was young when he married a kitsune. Now he’s older, and city life as driven his wife away. He lives for the few nights she comes back to him.
I liked this story, though it was really, really short. It was more of a fragment into a story than a short story in itself.
The Volunteer – TR Napper
It’s the future and China is fighting a war against Vietnam. Aran, an Australian tourist with Thai roots, is gangpressed into serving in the Chinese army. When a battle goes terribly wrong, he has a chance to flee.
I liked this story. The future setting’s great and believable and I liked the parallels to the Vietnam War.
Bright Student – Terence Toh
Yi Ling is desperate. Exams are coming up and she’s not sure she’ll pass. When a mysterious stranger offers her all the intelligence she needs, she’s sorely tempted. All he wants in return is her shadow, after all.
I liked this one. I liked Yi Ling’s obsession with passing her exam, obsession to the point of madness. And I liked what losing a shadow did to her, it was really interesting.
No Name Islands – Kawika Guillermo
There are some islands in Indonesia that are privately owned, where companies manipulate the weather to suit their crops. Putri is from one of these islands and she had to leave when the company came.
I liked the idea, but the story is really short, so it’s more of an impression than a short story, a brief introduction to that world.
The Dead of the Night – Barry Rosenberg
Peter and Simone are hunters. When they’re asked to kill a vampire from the age of Australia’s gold rush, their premonition tells them there’s more to this story than they first thought.
I’m a sucker for stories about hunting supernatural creatures, so this was right up my alley. Liked the history and their magic.
Yamada’s Armada – Eeleen Lee
Nicki is sent to interview the famous celebrity chef Yamada, when suddenly: pirates.
I didn’t get this story, it was too convoluted. It’s set in the future and Nicki is one of the few granted an interview with the famous Yamada. He tells him he worked for pirates, developing a bacteria culture that makes people go without hunger or thirst for long stretches of time. Then suddenly the place is attacked by pirates? Didn’t get it.
Love and Statues – Jax Goss
A boy and a girl wander through Dunedin. The girl is leaving but before she goes she tells the boy a secret: the statues in Dunedin come alive at night.
It’s kind of a sweet story, though again, extremely short. And it was a bit of a shame we only get to experience the magic second hand as the girl tells the boy. Would have been better with the girl as protagonist.
Gone Fishing – Jo Thomas
The world has changed and people live in small numbers in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They either belong to the Commonwealth or they make war on them. When a group of researches bring to sharks and a weapon to Grace’s steading, she acts fast.
The idea was cool but the execution was kind of confusing. I didn’t really get why these people were at war with each other or what they hoped to accomplish.
Shadows of an Ancient Battle – Daniel A. Kelin, II
Two women walk home at night when they pass a strange shadow-man.
Another of these very, very short stories and another that lacked a bit of context. The women and the shadow man don’t get along. They trade insults. They transform. That’s basically it.
In Memoriam – Fadzlishah Johanabas
Alia lives in a future where cranial implants have replaced touchscreens. There is even a surgery that takes unwanted memories away from you. A procedure that is Alia’s last chance at a normal life – or so they say.
I liked this story and the relationships between its characters. I also liked the setting. It had a future flair, but it was also understandable and felt real.
Lola’s Lessons – Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
His grandmother always told him stories. Stories of monsters and how to protect against them. But when monsters in human form arrive at their village, her stories cannot protect them.
A sweet and sad little story that read a lot like a fairy tale.
When the Rice was Gone – Dominica Malcolm
After the North invaded, everyone who could was sent underground into lockdown. But now supplies have dwindled and a trio of two men and a woman decide to try their luck outside.
It starts out as a classic post-apocalyptic future, with Seoul destroyed but then it morphs into something else. The ending didn’t really work for me.
The Healer – Aashika Nair
Sonal is part of a secret group of healers when she decides to live in our world for a while. There, she encounters a boy hurt in a fight, takes him in and heals him.
I liked the concept and the style. All those flavours containing magic that Sonal uses. However, the ending was too abrupt.
Caves of Noble Truth and Dangerous Knowledge – Celeste A. Peters
Zhen studies under her grandfather, an inventor and keeper of a secret archive. An archive an Englishman wants to see destroyed at all costs because it puts English superiority into question.
I would love to read those archives and look at the inventions. An automated messenger pidgeon? Sounds great.
The Seventh Month – Agnes Ong
It’s the seventh month, when the gates of hell open and spirits roam free. It’s the month Ah-Sen is terribly hurt in a gang fight.
And Then It Rained – Rebecca Freeman
It almost never rains anymore. Serena lives outside the town full of people she doesn’t trust, with her nephew, Toby. She dreams of leaving this place and heading east but she needs supplies for that.
I liked the almost resigned sadness in this story. And I liked how Serena dealt with everything.
Where the Fireflies Go – NJ Magas
When the old master dies, the protectors of his house come alive to discuss their future.
It’s a sad story, but I liked the fairy-tale-like quality of it.
The King of Flotsamland – Tom Barlow
Midas, a recycling company, wants to gobble up the central pacific trash gyre wheras the company Harry works for wants to make sure its resources go to those in need. But Midas won’t back down.
Interesting concept and I really liked Harry’s characterization.