I’m delighted to be the first person (on Amazon) to review the Planetary Anthology: Venus. I’ve been aware of the Superversive SF movement and their publications for a few years now, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review any of their works apart from God, Robot.
Each anthology in the series takes the theme of a particular planet or other major body in our solar system and asks contributors to create a short story on that theme. In this case, it can be about the planet Venus, but it can also be about the mythological goddess, or even on the wider topic of love and romance (with or without the SciFi/Fantasy elements).
One of the motivations for reading an anthology is to become exposed to a wider variety of authors (twenty in the case of “Venus”) and then decide which ones you like well enough to read more of their works.
I downloaded “Venus” onto my Kindle Fire and spent a few weeks of lunch hours reading stories and taking notes.
The first couple of stories didn’t connect with me and I was worried that I was about to have a bad experience overall. Then I discovered “Ninety Seconds” by Bokerah Brumley and “The Wrong Venus” by Lou Antonelli. I liked them both but somehow the climax to each lacked “punch.”
It wasn’t until I read Monalisa Foster’s “Enemy Beloved” that I became hooked. Even though the story didn’t define the protagonists’ roles or identities right away, those questions didn’t distract from the narrative, which was compelling.
“Texente Tela Veneris” by Edward Willett was more along the lines of ordinary people meet classic myth, but it was “The Happiest Place On Earth” by Misha Burnett that came closest to being heartbreaking, although Amy Sterling Casil’s “Smiley the Robot” came in a close second.
When you are reading the writing of so many different authors, not every one of them is going to “resonate” with you, which was what I experienced in this anthology. However, enough of them did that I found the entire book a worthwhile read.
Space (no pun intended) doesn’t allow me to mention my impressions of every single story, but “Star-Crossed” by Julie Frost, a fascinating tale involving a private detective werewolf and his vampire client, certainly got my attention. Also, “The Fox’s Fire” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail presented Native American mythology with a tragic and epic twist.
The anthology is five dollars and change including tax, and I’m sure you’ll find some stories within its digital pages that will pull you into their worlds.
Sadly, the one thing I really didn’t like at all was the cover art, not because of the quality itself, but the obvious male and female “love objects” in spacesuits above Venus seemed more farcical than dramatic.
Oh, a bit about my understanding of “Superversive.” From my perspective, the world of science fiction has become more about dystopia’s and dark futures since about the mid-1970s going forward, and Superversive SF is about taking back a future full of heroism and optimism.
It doesn’t mean every protagonist or storyline is rosy and cheerful, but these tales are aimed at providing the reader with people they can look up to and worlds in which they would like to live. It’s sort of how Gene Roddenberry conceptualized the original Star Trek TV series, and fifty years later, Kirk, Spock, and crew still inspire me.
As I mentioned above, I’m also posting this review to Amazon.