Warriors, the highly anticipated anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois will hit shelves in March. Mr. Martin best describes the anthology: "You will find warriors of every shape, size, and color in this pages, warriors from every epoch of human history, from yesterday and today and tomorrow and worlds that never were. Some of the stories will make you sad, some will make you laugh, many will keep you on the edge of your sear." Indeed, Mr. Martin is right on point with his overall description - I found warriors to be a true wonder in both its diversity and talent. The masterful explorations of the warrior archetype will delight fans of any genre, and are sure to titillate even the most hardened veterans of speculative fiction.
The three pieces which follow are my favorites so far in the anthology - all are gritty and bloody, showcasing a fair measure of violence, wit, and emotion.
Soldierin', by Joe Landsdale:
In this daringly nifty piece of historical fiction, Mr. Landsdale brings us back to the old days of slavery and American expansion into the West. Meet an escaped slave headed to sign up as a Buffalo Soldier after narrowly escaping an old fashioned lynching. The tone of the story is reminiscent of Abercrombie in his First Law trilogy - dark and ironic with a healthy abundance of sarcasm masked as humor. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the tale, at least for me, is the protagonist's world view and the casual familiarity with which racist epithets - and racism -abound. A true cowboys and indians frontier story, Soldierin' will delight, amaze, and leave one hoping for an expanded novella on the part of Mr. Landsdale.
Dirae, by Peter S. Beagle:
Unique in its structure, Dirae is a dreamscape like staccato narrative of a hero in the truest sense; a being who exists only in the moments of greatest need to protect the innocent and punish evil. Part superhero quest and journey of self-discovery, Dirae holds more twists than is proper for such a short story, showcasing a profound sense of loss and sorrow that seems all to personal. Peter S. Beagle is undoubtedly a modern master of the short story who has once again amazed me with his raw skill and daring narrative style. I would give this one three thumbs up, but physically that would be a bit awkward.
The Triumph, by Robin Hobb:
Brutal and bloody, The Triumph is a story of friendship, honor, and courage in an age in which warriors dreamed and lived for glory - to be remembered - and where mythical beasts roamed the land. The story, more than anything, highlights the timeless bond between warriors that is forged in the heat of battle, that endures unto, and even beyond, death. In a historical sense, Mr. Hobb highlights a worldview that is long extinct, and was perhaps even doomed to extinction from the start. Gruesome and bloody, Triumph is a story of a bond broken and friendship lost, but a memory sustained. Highly recommended and second only to Mr. Beagle's Dirae at this point.
... to be continued.