"A SF&F Anthology about Otherworldly Connections"
"Isadora" by Jeanne Allen explores what ifs. Lovers
of time travel know that the cardinal rule of the backward
travel is to observe without causing affect. One can only
imagine what they would find upon returning to the present
should major changes in history occur. The same rules have
been applied to space travelers happening upon a less
advanced culture. What if you put these two concepts
together to form a multi universe in which parallel worlds
exist for every scenario beyond each major decision or
event? This is a fascinating concept explored in this tale.
Isadora lives in a post cataclysm world, a millennium
beyond the time when the wrath of God was thought to have
been brought down on the sinners of the City of Rubble. Her
society is beyond the survival phase, and has moved into
reestablishing culture and religion, in this case according
to Alder. Alderwood will remind one of Salem in those years
of superstition, in which anyone who dared to be different
was suspect. Isadora is one such woman.
As a child she had witnessed a tribunal witch trial and had
been horrified. As she had grown she had begun to question
the religious teachings of Alder, based on a no longer
existing bible. She had turned to nature for her answers,
and by studying the elements and the stars had developed
stunning hypotheses which she records in her journal.
Enter Marcus, a drifter, from a place he can not explain.
But unlike the others who would accuse her of witchcraft,
he revels in her intellect and encourages her curiosity.
With him she is not so alone. But he is a mystery, and
disappears frequently without explanation. Often he brings
back unexplained wonders to aid in her research. Love
blooms, but Marcus knows his time in Alderwood is limited.
Soon he must resume his life, and he knows he must leave
Isa to her own destiny. Unfortunately his timing couldn't
be worse, for in every society there are those who crave
power and will do whatever is necessary to acquire it, even
if it means destroying innocent lives. Isadora's
differences have set her apart. Soon events will occur
which will cast her in an unfavorable light, and the fate
of their worlds will rest in one man's hands.
"Twin Star" by Jeanine Berry takes place on a gate
world known as Arth, inhabited predominently by the
Huymans. Sonneret is of an alien race known as the Dorshans
who had been sent through a gate to Arth by God because
their own world was dying. Other alien races had settled
here as well, but the Huymans doubt the will of God is
responsible. Most fear and despise the alien races and
would prefer to send them back through the gate. That
however proves to be impossible. The Dorshans who have
psychic ability, had established their colony far from the
din of unprotected Huyman thought. But the father of the
current Akhilesh (Huyman ruler), had felt a need for
conquest and had sent soldiers to enslave the Dorshans.
Sonneret's parents had been slaughtered, and she and her
uncle had become slaves to the royal household in Lothar.
Her uncle had since purchased their freedom, but now
Sonneret was having dreams that the soldiers would soon
return for her. She had been taught that such dreams always
came to be, and that she could not fight fate.
Word comes that the young ruler Ehereon has divorced his
wife. A Cinderella scenario ensues in which the eligible
women of the kingdom are brought forth to his harem for
trail. Ehereon's first marriage had been political and he'd
been terribly lonely. He is determined that his new
lifemate should make him happy. As per her premonition,
Sonneret becomes part of the round up. She is certain that
she will not be found pleasing, but that is not the case.
Something unexpected occurs when they touch for the first
time, a sharing of minds and souls that only occurs when
one of her people finds their twin star, their mate for
life. Each sees much to admire and respect in the other.
But Sonneret's first loyalty is to her people, and she is
reluctant to reveal anything about them that might be
perceived as a threat to the Huyman's. Ehereon is kind and
gentle but Sonneret's dreams indicate that her people will
soon be banished from Lothar. She is determined that no act
of hers will be the cause.
Caemer, Ehereon's best friend and companion is known to
despise aliens. He waits for the appropriate moment of
distrust to plant seeds of doubt in the ruler's mind. One
moment of hurt, one rash act, and the potential for true
love and the peace of their world would be destroyed. Can
Sonneret change their fate by sheer will? Or will it take
trust on both their parts to overcome their prejudice and
"Eidolon" by Shannah Biondine is quite a bit
different from the other stories. It definitely fits the
theme if not the tone of the rest of the anthology. It is
not a romance, but that is not to say that it is not
enjoyable. It would have fit wonderfully into the Heaven
and Hell anthology (Speculation Press, Jan. 2000). If you
like irony and don't require a happy ending you may enjoy
Azubah is the devil's youngest sister. The two are
embroiled in a bet which involves human integrity. If
Azubah wins, Lucifer must repent and beg the Almighty for
forgiveness, thereby restoring the entire clan to their
former place of glory. When and if she loses, Lucifer
destroys the town and all its inhabitants. Generally Azubah
can not enlist the help of men with physical disadvantages
in her schemes, although she has a definite soft spot for
them. It's entirely too easy to persuade those in such
desperate need. However this time Lucifer declares all
humans fair game, and Azubah holds Haggerty, a clubfooted
orphan on the precipice of manhood in reserve, in case her
other prospects fail. Haggerty isn't used to woman
treating him like a desirable man and develops a crush on
her. Ironically her reticence to involve him in her wager
backfires on her. He sees her dealings with other men as
betrayal. One can't expect the devil to play fair, and soon
Luce is mixing things up in town. As always things go
terribly wrong with Azubah's plans, but the irony comes in
at the very end of the story. I won't reveal the twist but
suffice it to say the Lucifer isn't the devil for nothing.
"Thief of Dreams" by Sheri L. McGathy was perhaps my
favorite of all of the stories. Nerys, the only daughter of
Lord Devi is promised to Gerard Regan who views their
betrothal as a favorable political alliance. He has not won
the heart of the fair lady, nor has he tried, a fact which
troubles her father. She was taking great pleasure in
Camden Shire's Festival of the Oak, but Gerard's unwanted
attentions come close to spoiling for it for her.
Young Cody O'Neal had at last returned home, a man grown.
He had been sent to foster at the tender age of five to
recover from the tragic loss of his older brother Colin,
who had simply vanished one day. When his eyes lit upon
Nerys, he knew he had fallen in love. When he looked at her
he saw an angel rather than the means to gain wealth and
power. Nerys is enchanted with the charming and handsome
young man as well. Fortunately, Lord Devi's contract with
Gerard's father had stipulated that the man must win Nery's
heart. Jamys decrees that the two men must compete for his
daughter's affection. At the end of a year she would chose
the man she would wed.
Gerard is outraged. Though Nery's follows through on a
promise to allow each man equal time to woo her, it is
painfully obvious who the winner will be. Cody is sweet,
gentle, and very romantic. One night he even introduced her
to the magical realm inside a faery ring, but had exacted
her promise that she would never enter one. Those who do,
never return. As Samhain approached Gerard hatched a
desperate plan to rid himself of his rival and force Nerys
into wedlock. Cody disappeared without a trace. Though
grief threatened to consume her, Nerys refused to give up
on him. Just when all hope is exhausted, help comes from an
unexpected quarter. Nerys must break one promise to keep
another, to have and to hold the man that she loves for all
time. This tale was truly magical.
Copyright © 2003
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted April 22, 2003