A really great anthology; the first I’ve ever seen GRRM edit outside of his Wild Card series. The dustjacket touts all the NY Times BestSelling authors who contributed, and spot-lighting Charlaine Harris in particular. I understand why they do it but I don’t have to like it it rather spoils the dustjacket art, IMHO.
So, the first story up is Charlaine Harris’, of course. And it’s as good as all her work tends to be. The main character is a vampire from the Sookie Stackhouse universe. Joe R. Lansdale had a truly creepy story with an ending that had to have haunted the characters involved. S.M. Stirling had a pretty good detective-type story but not terribly original. Conn Iggulden had a really great original story that was great fun to read even though the ending was saddening. Laurie R. King had a great story about genetic meddling that I wished was longer….a lot longer.
M.L.N. Hanover had a rather original take on the worn out vampire theme; I liked the ending. Lisa Tuttle had a gory story about Deodands go google it, and then get this book. Diana Gabaldon revisited her character Lord John who might have gotten laid if the poor native boy he was drawn to hadn’t been zombiefied. Her story and Snodgrass’ alone are worth the price of the book. The third best, I think, was Patricia Briggs with a solid detective story involving werewolves, witches and zombies. And while that might sound like over-kill, it really hangs together well.
The roman snake story from John Maddox Roberts was rather uninspired; an ordinary murder mystery that doesn’t quite measure up to the anthology’s title. The last story from Bradley Denton was also a disappointment.
And the best of the lot? Melinda Snodgrass. I truly hope she continues her character, Cross, in another story. Why is Jesus still hanging around and playing at secret agent? And I really need to know what or who Conoscenza is as the name is so tantalizing how could he be Cross’ superior?
All in all, this was a very satisfying anthology and I hope GRRM and Dozois can do it again…soon. ~~ Catherine Book