A is for Apocalypse by Rhonda Parrish, editor

A is for Apocalypse by Rhonda Parrish, editor
Publisher: Poise and Pen Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Full Length (295 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

What do you get when you take twenty-six amazing writers, randomly assign them a letter of the alphabet and give them complete artistic freedom within a theme?

A is for Apocalypse

A is for Apocalypse contains twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war–the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves.

Some apocalypses can be predicted ahead of time. Others not so much.

The reason why I’m not mentioning any titles in my review is that they all give away gives major spoilers about what kind of apocalypse to expect from them. The introduction explains why Rhonda Parrish decided to create such a unique collection, and I highly recommend reading it first. In order to avoid confusion, I’ll use the names of the authors who wrote them instead.

I didn’t have a clue what Ms. Cato was doing at first. Rick, her protagonist, is paying close attention to every beep from his dosimeter, but his reasons for doing so with such a calm demeanour aren’t immediately apparent. He remained a fascinating character to me even after I figured out why he wasn’t panicking due to how well this behavior fits in with the rest of his personality. It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite in this collection, but I recommend beginning with Ms. Cato’s entry to anyone who likes skipping around.

When I first started this book I thought I knew more or less what to expect from it because I read so much science fiction and horror. The authors’ imaginative twists on common apocalyptic themes genuinely caught me by surprise, and that isn’t an easy thing to do! With that being said, certain apocalypses would have worked much better as novellas or full-length novels due to how many characters they required or the complexity of their plots.

Ms. Taylor’s tale is a good example of this. In it Dr. Surya Johansson is studying the remnants of human civilization for reasons that are gradually revealed as the plot continues. Figuring out the doctor’s background and motivation for travelling from one tattered colony to the next kept me guessing, but so many characters were introduced that I had trouble keeping track of all of them. It would have also been helpful to have more information about the events that led Dr. Johansson to conducting this study. The tidbits sprinkled throughout the plot provided tantalizing clues about the backstory, but some of them never quite gelled together for me.

Mr. Aldin’s story begins with a flashback to the narrator’s childhood. Eric’s parents always reassured him that monsters aren’t real, but they were dead wrong. For a long time Eric believed that he was the last human left alive on earth, but when he finds evidence of a woman travelling through his terrority he knows he has to do anything he can to meet her. The character development in this piece was well done, especially once Eric’s risk-taking tendencies begin to show up. I had an inkling of what might be happening with this character, but seeing everything unfold through his first-person perspetive made the rest of the plot even better.

A is for Apocalypse is a clever anthology that I’d recommend to anyone who is a fan of hard science fiction.

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