When I write for an anthology, I frequently receive a contributor’s copy. I enjoy reading the stories by other writers, and Alien Dimensions #22 is no exception.
In “The Voiceless City” by Elana Gomel, a spaceship commanded by an AI selects a crew for a first contact mission. The unusual crew is composed of a half-dozen experts, but all of them have issues: antisocial disorder, linguistic delay, autism, and similar neurological and psychological challenges. When the ship returns from its mission, the AI and several of the crew are dead, and the xeno-biologist assigned to figure out what happened is the mother of the only survivor.
John R. Edlund’s “Songs of the Leviathan” offers lobster-like aliens having a political and religious argument on a human space station. The artifact they’ve discovered on their world may determine a winner in their lengthy battle once and for all, but the artifact has other ideas.
“An Eye for an Eye” by Hunter Liguore describes a future where a man who lives on Earth but works on Mars doesn’t have to move if he has new eyes installed. Unfortunately, poor Felix Miller has problems when he receives eyes designed for suicides who wish to die by monster. Not only that, but he falls in love with a woman with monster-vision and a limited time to live.
“Field Log” by Jason E. Maddux is a clever journal of a stranded anthropologist who studies an alien race (or two) and must deal with her discoveries of an unexpected way of propagation.
In “Enter the Carnotvore” by Frank Dumas (the t is silent), a crusty space captain gives tours to school children to the Central Fire, the center of the universe, but has to deal with a species who can survive a million degrees and find gold. Or, is it a scheme and do they exist at all?
I really liked “Picket Duty” by Robert M. Walton. Two retired soldiers, one without arms and legs, live on a desert planet and are attacked by an enemy they thought long defeated. The killers aren’t after them. They want the eggs of dimension-hopping snakes that only give birth on that planet. They are part of a symposium of galactic beings, and the two soldiers have been recruited to protect the eggs. Felt like the first chapter in a pretty exciting novel.
David Castlewitz’s “Emperor’s Boon” tells the tale of a low-caste alien gladiator who wins the great challenge (on his sand mite!) and dares to ask the emperor for his daughter’s hand as his reward for winning the tournament. Lovely descriptions of a truly different life form with a familiar romantic story.
James Armer is “Searching for Something” when his animal trapper dons a robot body to capture an apex predator on a Vereli archipelago and encounters some electricity-sucking birds assisting a krallion dragon. While her own life is endangered, she does some soul-searching as to whether or not she should destroy the island’s food chain.
In “Welkin’s Outcasts” by Dave Creek, two unlikely friends, a human who is part of an exploratory team on a world that’s mostly ocean, and a dolphin-like native. When his friend is endangered by other sentient sea beings, the human must break the regulations of non-involvement to save his friend.
“Asset Management” by Daniel R. Robichaud is nail-biting action when a space probe he’s investigating turns out to have something alive inside. Exciting but the ending was a little too happy for me.
The editor, Neil A. Hogan, has a story of “The Birds 2152” and as usual, he jumps right in on the dilemma when an ornithologist investigating why all the birds on a habitable moon die off every seven years. With her teenage children, she discovers the dangers of being a target during the birds’ die-off period. I was confused by the end and wasn’t sure they escaped, but it’s a great read.
Alien Dimensions #22 is worth the time and money. Would be interesting to find out where all these original ideas come from.