Shapers of Worlds by Edward Willett, Editor

Shapers of Worlds by Edward Willett, Editor
Publisher: Shadowpaw Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Within these pages lie eighteen stories, from eighteen worlds shaped by some of today’s best writers of science fiction and fantasy, all guests on the Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers during its first year. There are original stories from Tanya Huff, Seanan McGuire, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., John C. Wright, D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, Shelley Adina, and Edward Willett, plus fiction by John Scalzi, David Brin, Julie Czerneda, Joe Haldeman, Gareth L. Powell, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Fonda Lee, Derek Kunsken, and Thoraiya Dyer. Some are international bestsellers. Among them are winners and nominees for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, Aurealis, Ditmar, British Science Fiction Association, and Dragon Awards. Some have been writing for decades, others are at the beginning of their careers. All have honed their craft to razor-sharpness.

A teenage girl finds something strange in the middle of the Canadian prairie. An exobiologist tries to liberate a giant alien enslaved on its homeworld by humans. The music of the spheres becomes literal for an Earth ship far from home. A superhero league interviews for new members. Strangers share a drink on a world where giant starships fall. Two boys, one a werewolf, one a mage, get more than they bargained for when they volunteer to fight an evil Empire. A man with amnesia accepts a most unusual offer. A young woman finds unexpected allies as she tries to win a flying-machine race in steampunk London . . .

Ranging from boisterous to bleak, from humorous to harrowing, from action-filled to quiet and meditative; taking place in alternate pasts, the present day, the far, far future, and times that never were; set on Earth, in the distant reaches of space, in fantasy worlds, and in metaphysical realms, each of these stories is as unique as its creator. And yet, they all showcase one thing: the irrepressible need of human beings to create, to imagine, to tell stories.
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To shape worlds.

These tales are filled with surprises, so keep guessing as you read them!

“The Tale of the Wicked” followed Captain Michael Obwije as his war ship, The Wicked, attempted to hunt down and finally destroy an enemy ship. When something unexplainable happened at the last moment, he had to quickly figure out what was going on before it was too late. The plot twists in this tale kept me on the edge of my seat. They felt like an episode of a fast-paced and thought-provoking science fiction adventure show. I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended, and the creative final scene only made me yearn for more!

There were some tales in this collection that I wish had been given more time to develop, and “Ghost Colours” was one of them. It was about a man named Brian who had inherited a ghost from a relative. Luckily, science had advanced to the point that hauntings could be permanently dealt with by having one’s DNA slightly altered. I was intrigued by how such a procedure would work and was a bit disappointed that the characters never went into detail about it. They only barely scraped the surface of how proving the existence of ghosts would change human society. With that being said, I loved the premise of this story and of the others that I thought could have used more time to grow. Their basic structures were good, they just needed to be filled out more.

As soon as I read the first sentence of “A Thing of Beauty” and realized two of the characters were talking about murdering orphans in order to save money, I raised an eyebrow and kept going. There’s definitely something about cutting straight to the chase when the stakes are high as these ones! I was intrigued by the main character’s plan to stop these murders from happening. While I can’t go into more detail about it than that, I will say that the plot twists kept me guessing until the final scene.

Shapers of Worlds was a well-rounded anthology that should be read by anyone who wants to lose themselves in other times and places.

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