L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor, Mar 2008, $25.95
This enjoyable anthology contains nineteen previously published stories; three never published before including a Recluce tale; five from 1973 to 1990; the remainder since 2000. Two tales are set in the Recluce universe ("Black Ordermage" and "Sisters of Sarronym, Sisters of Westwind”) require understanding of that realm to grasp what is fully going on; for die hard fans of that saga will enjoy finding out how Cassis became a Recluce. A “what if” tale set in the realm of the Corean Chronicles (“Beyond the Obvious Wind”) in which the author’s introduction explains that this was his pre-novel efforts to set some ground rules; though this does not require reading the Corean tales, it is fun to compare the changes from this original short to what followed. This reviewer’s favorite contributions are "News Clips from the NYC Ruins" that is reminiscent of the 1960s cult film Fillard Millmore as an amusing cautionary tale that highlights the future downfall of the United States and 1973’s “The Great American Economy” summed up by the author in his Introduction to this piece” “forecast some of what later became known as cybercrime …”. Although these are short stories, for the most part the characters are fully developed or developed enough to carry the tale. Fans of author will appreciate this superb compilation while newcomers obtain a taste of a terrific author.