Let me make one thing clear before we being. I am not a professional book reviewer. I am not an editor, nor do I possess the critical eye necessary to be a very good one. That said, I like to read. And I know what I like when I read it. And, when I’m reading with my eyes and not my ears (thanks Audible), I usually spend a good deal of time deconstructing what I love, as well as what bothers me.
If you were to get your hands on my iPad you could open up my Kindle app and review pages and pages of notes and highlights in just about any novel resident in my library. I rarely if ever sit down with a paperback without a highlighter and a pencil. I’ve even been known to flow chart story lines, just so I can get the low orbital view of a book’s landscape. So while I’m not an editor or a reviewer, you might say that I enjoy understanding why one thing works while another may not.
I have been a long time fan of short-form fiction. Anthologies are even better because they bring so many yummy bite sized piece together. Paolo Bacigalupi won a devoted fan with Pump Six and Other Stories. What a roller coaster ride of dystopic fancy. And I’ve made it my mission to read, and re-read, anyone who ever contributed to METAtropolis largely because each and every one of those stories were just that good. And sometimes I open these books just to read one at a sitting, and it always feels like I’m plucking the best chocolate from the box.
Recently I picked up an advanced copy of From the Indie Side from Michael Bunker. He is one of a number of independent authors, some well established and some writing their way up through the ranks, who made a contribution to this anthology.
From the Indie Side does not fail to deliver. You will discover dark chocolates that require a nice glass of red to fully appreciate and lighter, sweeter morsels that will delight. It has a little something for everyone and since completing it cover to cover I’ve enjoyed going back and re-reading everything from Jason Gurley’s The Winter Lands and his dark, luxuriant pros to Hugh Howey’s well told coming of age tale Mouth Breathers.
What is, perhaps, even more interesting about this anthology is that it is all independent authors. Somehow, all of these people managed to set aside enough time to pen tales within a genre, that could then be collected together. It is a true collective artistic endeavor with the same quality and polish you might expect from a Big Ink publishing company. But there was no outside, organizing power, no invisible hand of the publisher moving money and time around to make this anthology possible.
That gives me a renewed sense of hope that this Indie business can be made to work. That people can overcome their inherent differences and the physical challenges of distance and time to produce such a fine anthology tells me that short form fiction still has a place.