Sunday, September 12, 2010
Fear the Alien edited by Christian Dunn
Fear the Alien is the latest anthology from the black library. It has some good stories, and some bad. Let's start with the good. Dan Abnett has another Magos Drusher short story called "Gardens of Tycho". This short story picks up years after the last one, when Drusher helped to identify a genestealer as a rural killer. Now Drusher is older, and much poorer, and he has been brought in to help find a killer in the city of Tycho. It's a good tale, with a nice twist, that is well worth reading. There is also "Prometheus Requiem" by Nick Khyme which is about the Firedrakes, featuring Tsu'gan and Praetor, who have to go into a space hulk to find the Protean and accomplish a secret mission. "The Core" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is another Night Lords story featuring Talos. This time after the events in Soul Hunter. Here Talos is on a mission of salvage in a space hulk the size of a small moon. These two stories could be read one after the other and make the anthology experience better as a whole, or you can read in order and savor the gems amidst the otherwise mediocre short stories.
There are a couple of decent stories as well, "Mistress Baeda's Gift" is a tale of Dark Eldar love and is notable for some Dark Eldar love at the very least. "Unity" is another interesting story, involving a guardsman sniper and a marine of the Raven Guard behind enemy lines on an Imperial World turned traitor by joining the Tau'va. Finally, "Faces" by Mathew Farrer, of Shira Calpurnia fame, is a psychological story of a group of forge workers who seem to have gone crazy.
The other stories are readable, but not quite so well put together. Some use tired old story ideas to incorporate their alien elements and some are just written in a barely readable or uninteresting fashion. On the whole though, the book is worth it for the first three stories.