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WesternSFA
Evolve Two
Edited by Nancy Kilpatrick
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2011, 263pp
Release Date: August 15, 2011

This anthology presents a variety of vampiric futures, all of them exploring aspects of predator-prey relationships, some with humor, some via horror, several with truly original twists of the tail. The demarcations of hunter and hunted are often ambiguous. Stories are organized into three groups: Pre-Apocalypse, Post-Apocalypse, and New World Order; some of the Pre-Apocalypse stories, however, are already set in extreme conditions of over-population and global warming that are far past the tipping point, barely this side of the breakdown threshold.

One of my favorites is “Six Underground” by Michael Lorenson: in a neat reversal of the film Twelve Angry Men, a lone juror who is convinced that a Guilty verdict should be returned sets out to convince the other 11. The story has cunning layers of logic and revelation, and more SF packed into its pages than any other three stories combined. “Toothless” is another standout, a detective story set in a near future where a few minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough to boil anyone’s skin. (In both these stories, the differences between humans and vampires are vanishing.) The descriptions of how vampires are being affected by all the ambient radiation, and by human adaptations, are simultaneously hilarious and ghastly. “Nosangreal” by Ivan Dorin is the weirdest contribution, and yes, that’s a compliment. The other two I enjoyed the most were “Out with the Old”, a Post-Apocalyptic story by William Meikle, and Sandra Kasturi’s “The Slow Turning of the World”, which is the end piece, and an unusually successful example of pure narrative.

Ms. Kilpatrick did fine work here, and her Introduction essay is good to read in and of itself. Anyone looking for reading group material, or for examples of modern fiction to share with a literature class, should consider assigning some of these. Definitely recommended. ~~ Chris Paige

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