This time of the year there are always quite a few anthologies being released. I love anthologies because it’s a great opportunity to sample the world building and series-spinning of a variety of authors without making a huge investment in either time or money. I’ve discovered so many new-to-me authors over the years by reading collections of new stories. The first time I ever read Nalini Sigh or Patricia Briggs back in the day was in anthologies. And I like nothing better than curling up with some Regency romance holiday tales, which is where I first found Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney.
An anthology may also be supporting a charity, which is another nice aspect for the reader as they are making the purchase.
Of course the anthology most on my mind at this point in the year is Pets in Space® 5, which Pauline B. Jones and I co-founded in 2016. Our concept was to combine science fiction romance with pets, alien and terrestrial, and make the animal an integral part of the story. We often explain this by comparing it to “Lassie but in outer space.” This is our fifth year to produce the anthology and I’m proud to say we’ve been able to donate over $14,000.00 to our chosen charity, Hero-Dogs Inc., which provides service animals to veterans and first responders in need.
We have another terrific group of 12 authors this year, leading off with New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author S. E. Smith with a Dragon Lords of Valdier short story. This has been a pretty harrowing year in one way or another and the twelve all new stories in this volume offer some escape and respite from current events. For my entry in the volume, Star Cruise: Return Voyage, I’ve written the story of Gianna Nadenoft, a reclusive survivor of one of the worst interstellar cruise ship disasters in the history of the Sectors. Now a renowned artist, she hasn’t left her home planet in decades, not since returning there after the wreck as a traumatized three-year-old. With her service animal at her side, she’s going to attempt to travel across the star systems to attend her brother’s wedding and reunite with her fellow survivors. This is a sequel to my first ever published SFR novel, Wreck of the Nebula Dream (which more than one reviewer called “Titanic in space…”) but is a standalone tale.
If hard science fiction is more your thing, the Overmorrow anthology recently came out, with twelve short stories set in an “optimistic future”. “OVERMORROW: Stories of our Bright Future” is an anthology of science fiction short stories set in an optimistic future. From classic Golden Age style science fiction to wicked satire, from solarpunk to parody. Colony ships bound for distant solar systems, humans (and chickens) on Mars, Transhumanism and medical revolutions. This collection will transport you out of the present day to the bright future of the day-after-tomorrow.
Or how about steampunk, which Wikipedia defines as “a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.” November 6th brings Airship Legends: Adventures of the Phantom Saber, in which six different authors have written stories all set on the same steampunk vessel.
In a Halloween paranormal mood? There’s Halloween Hearts, whose ten authors offer “Witches, gargoyles, warlocks, and friends party with vampires and skeletons, and awaken the dead. Our collection of ghouls is sure to delight. Still, unfortunately, this is a limited engagement—we’ll be gone with pumpkin spice.” This anthology is anchored by New York Times Best Selling Author Margo Bond Collins.
Want to be a bit more adventurous with your paranormal romance? Wicked Souls: A Limited Edition Reverse Harem Romance Collection has over 30 stories of “Dark delights. Wicked spells. Damned souls and spirits seeking revenge. On All Hallows’ Eve when the veil is thin, all manner of wicked souls come out to play…” as their blurb promises and includes some very well-known bestselling authors like Rebecca Royce, Ripley Proserpina and Mila Young. Reverse harem is where the lady has multiple suitors and as is often said in this genre, why choose? So she doesn’t and a merry time is had by all.
Too steamy? Pumpkins and Potions provides a paranormal cozy mystery assortment of stories from sixteen authors in the gentler genre. Think “Murder She Wrote” style tales, usually low on the gore but with “bats, hats, and talking cats…give your cauldron a stir, and carve out the time for some witchy fun…” Cozy mysteries is definitely a fast growing category and a favorite with readers. There isn’t always a romance, or the attraction between the heroine and her beau may grow slowly over the course of a series. The books tend to be set in small towns, usually with decidedly unusual aspects.
Offbeat: An LGBTQ+ Anthology is a new anthology out recently featuring seven authors with “…everything from poetry to expressive prose, drama and tragedy to contemporary romances to retellings of ancient tales… casts a light on the many experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.” I’m also highly anticipating Silk and Steel: A Queer Speculative Adventure Anthology, to be released at the end of November. “Princess and swordswoman, lawyer and motorcyclist, scholar and barbarian: there are many ways to be a heroine. In this anthology, seventeen authors find new ways to pair one weapon-wielding woman and one whose strengths lie in softer skills.”
Pivoting to creatures of the night again, Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire promises excitement and thrills. Ten anchor authors have provided stories “From immortal African deities to resistance fighters; matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers; coming of age stories to end of life stories, SLAY is a groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora…”
Which reminded me that in late summer there was Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora with ten tales of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. The stories dealt with themes ranging from robots, time travel, magic, the Goddess of Vengeance and more.
Coming in November will be Under A Winter Sky: A Midwinter Holiday Anthology, featuring one of my autobuy authors, Jeffe Kennedy and three other well-known names, sharing “… heartwarming and pulse-pounding tales celebrate Hanukah, Christmas, the solstice, Yule – and holidays from worlds beyond our own. With fancy-dress balls, faery bargains, time travel, blood sacrifice, and festive cocktails, these stories will delight lovers of fantasy and romance, with a dash of seasonal joy.” I’ve got that pre-ordered and can’t wait.
Coming back to the holiday season where I began this column, there’s Romancing the Holidays. Anchored by New York Times Best Selling Author Alyssa Day, the collection promises to “…transport you from Labor Day and Halloween antics to Christmas and Valentine romantics. Its stories will whisk you away into contemporary, historical, and paranormal worlds where love prevails.” That definitely works for me! This book is sitting on my e-reader, waiting for me to sit down with a cup of tea and Jake the Cat and read.
And if Regency romance is among your reading pleasures, as it is mine, there’s Wicked Earl’s Christmas, with no less than ten holiday tales. Twas a Rogue Before Christmas, releasing in November offers nine diverting stories set amidst holiday gaiety. Or 12 Rogues of Christmas, “packed with Regency catnip” as the book’s blurb states…hmmm, I’d better one-click that before I forget!
12 Rogues: Amazon KU
Note: Some of these titles may be available on Nook and Google Play. I didn’t go check, for lack of time to work on my own novels!