Reviews of Army of the Fantastic (2007)
Review by StefanY (2007-08-24)
Overall – I’m a fan of short-story collections in general, but of late the majority of collections that I have read have all been written by the same author. It was refreshing for me to read these stories with the same overall theme, yet running in so many directions with so many different styles. From story to story, the reader doesn’t know what to expect, so there’s always an air of eager anticipation when starting the next one. Overall, I enjoyed all of the stories. Some are better than others and I did have my favorites. Notable works in the collection for me were (in the order that they appear): Focke-Drache, Unnatural, Iowa Under Seige, Dispatches from the Front, and Wildest Dreams.
I also thought that having a blurb about each author at the end of the book was a nice added touch. I enjoyed getting to know a little bit about each of them.
Focke-Drache by Jean Rabe – Great intro to the book and really helps to set the tone. Story is about a dragon fighting with the Germans during WWII. Vivid ariel battles and a good view of the war from the dragon’s viewpoint. I really enjoyed this story.
Over the Top by Rick Hautala – This story provides a nice change of pace. An old man and his granddaughter visit the sight of a World War I battle that he participated in and witnessed fantastical beings. This is a quiet story dealing more with the love of a grandfather for his granddaughter than the actual war itself.
The Blood of the People by Fiona Patton – This one took me a while to get through. I actually did enjoy the storyline, but all of the Hawaiian names and words really took some time for me to sort through. I found the Hawaiian legend told in the story to be quite interesting.
Brothers in Arms by Tim Waggoner – A good story about two brothers with totally opposing viewpoints on war. This one has some good battle scenes.
Unnatural by Alan Dean Foster – I thought that this one was great. While under siege by a rival nation, a young wizard brings his new invention to his superior’s attention. This new invention, although totally nonmagical, may just prove to be the turning point in the war.
Blood in the Water by Tanya Huff – This is a naval story centered around a new threat in the waterways cutting off shipping routes. A lot of good action and strong characters help to carry this story at a fast pace through the end.
Iowa Under Siege by Mickey Zucker Reichert – A group of farmers try to decide what to do to prevent their homesteads from being invaded by creatures from the Land of Faerie. This tale is a bit more lighthearted than the rest so far. The characters are very down-to-earth and believable.
Teeth in the Sand by Russell Davis – More of an adventure than a war story, when an army’s scouts are killed by mysterious insects, the leader and his bodyguard try to solve the mystery before anyone else is killed.
The Twain Shall Meet by Bill Fawcett – This one deals with the typical military notions of conquest and superiority over all foes. It’s a pretty good story with some good twists.
Airborne by Jody Lynn Nye – A unit of Pegasus-riding Elven warriors must come to terms with the newest member of their team, a winged centaur, before going out to battle again. Good story that deals well with the tensions present in a military unit when someone out of the ordinary is introduced.
Demons Touch by James Barclay – This was a darker story about a group of defenders tracking down a nest of demons to attempt to destroy them before the demons can open another gateway to their dimension in order to allow more of their kind into the world. This one had a lot of good tension build up throughout and some really tense battle scenes.
Dispatches from the Front by Kristine Kathryn Rusch – This is basically told as a reporter’s take on the horrors of war. I liked the change of pace in this one as well as the journalistic approach to the style of the story-telling.
Wildest Dreams by Michael A. Stackpole – Wow, looks like the editors saved the best for last. This story is a dark, gritty, balls-to-the wall all out battle. It had great action throughout. In some ways the tone of this story brings to mind the first time I saw Saving Private Ryan. The opening scene in that movie got the adrenaline pumping and had me eagerly anticipating more and more action. The story grabbed me the same way and I voraciously tore through it to the finale.