Far Worlds by Various Authors – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews the latest self-published anthology from the Bolthole, a collection of authors responsible for The Black Wind’s Whispers and Marching Time. Unlike the last two books with their focus on horror and time travel, Far Worlds focuses on science fiction.
“An excellent collection of short stories – Far Worlds is a great place to explore what science fiction has to offer – as its stories are all consistently strong and entertaining, even if they may be of varying length.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
Passing world upon world, trillions of souls across the universe have witnessed it. But no one knows what the Drift Engine is. For adventurers, lovers, rebels, and ordinary folk alike, the Drift Engine’s presence has ranged from the spark that ignites global conflict to the source of comical calamity to nothing more than a curious footnote in history.
Herein lies almost two dozen adventures across the spectrum of speculative fiction, both short stories and flash fiction, inspired by the Drift Engine. What mark will the Drift Engine leave on you?
The first two anthologies from The Bolthole both dealt with interesting genres and themes, with the broad topics of horror and military-centric time travel (The Black Wind’s Whispers and Marching Time). This time around we’ve got something that’s entirely different – this book almost has two dozen stories that touch upon the varying themes – with not a single book set on Earth. It’s very much in science fiction territory, and if you want a wide variety of what’s on offer than you can’t do far wrong in checking this one out.
Unlike The Black Wind’s Whispers and Marching Time, Far Worlds doesn’t benefit from having a Black Library author to add a major name (as the Bolthole is a Black Library fan forum) – CL Werner contributed stories to both the previous Anthologies for example, but Far Worlds still manages to be entertaining regardless – and the collective authors pull out some of their best written short stories that I’ve read. Regulars A.R. Aston, James Fadeley and more contribute to this Anthology – the full list of authors also includes Jonathan Ward, Heidi Ruby Miller, Kerri Fitzgerald, Edward Smith, Evan Purcell, Ceres Wright, Simon Farrow, Michael J. Hollows, Alex Helm, Michael Seese and Damir Salkovic – all delivering some very strong titles. Aston and Fadeley also have editing credits for the book – with J.L. Gribble also contributing to the editorial post and providing flash fiction. You also get several pages of artwork inside the book as well – with Manuel Mesones preventing the book from being just text.
There are a multiple list of stories in this book that work well. Some are very short, and there’s a nice mix of length in this book. The book packs several new authors as well as returning ones, and gives you a great mix of fresh talent. The shortest stories there are flash fiction, provided as bonus content meaning that several authors have contributed multiple tales for this book, and the shorter length allows for a nice break in-between the main shorts.
The biggest strength of Far Worlds is that there’s not one short story in this book that I didn’t like – they’re all relatively strong and they all deal with an interesting subject matter. However, that’s not to say some are better than others – for example, the opening short story – Anomaly by Jonathan Ward, which kicks off the book – is a highlight. The flash fiction isn’t bad too, the immediate second title First Spark, written by JL Gribble, is fun and contains the killer first line “So as it turned out, starting a fire with your brain was kind of hard,” which really helps make this collection get off to a strong start.
Later on in the book, we also get some strong titles – Shard of Heaven by Damir Salkovic is a strong military sci-fi read, and A.R. Aston also concludes the book well with The Drift Engine. Of course, the beginning and the end aren’t just the best parts though – the middle sections contain some highlights in the form of Edward Smith’s City Blue among others. So you’re certainly getting your money’s worth when you pick up this book.
Another thing that I’d like to add is that the cover is fantastic as well – I don’t normally talk about covers but this one in particular looks amazing. It’s something that screams ‘must-buy’ and you can’t go far wrong with this book.
So yeah, Far Worlds is well worth the asking price, with a great wealth of content on hand. It’s confident, well edited (I didn’t notice any grammar mistakes for example) and reads very well with not a bad short story in the book. It’s something that you should certainly consider buying, and as a result comes recommended.