Dominion is an anthology of twelve speculative short stories (and a poem) from Africa and the African Diaspora. With that being the singular factor uniting these works, they represent a wide range of genres, subjects, and settings. Robots, magicians, angry goddesses, zombies, greedy corporations, and more make appearances across small towns, spaceships, crumbling worlds, and interdimensional spaces.
"Of the 380 Earths with which we can resonate, I’m dead in 372."
The CEO of Eldridge Institute, Adam Bosch, has invented a way to travel the multiverse, but one can only enter another world if their doppelgänger there is dead. Thus, Eldridge has been forced to hire travelers whose perilous lives have given them a very slim chance of surviving. Cara was born to an addict mother outside Wiley City where a tyrannical warlord and his Runner gang rule. Now, due to her skill at dying, she has the chance to work as a traveler, become a Wiley City citizen, and turn her life around. But when another one of her counterparts dies and she travels to Earth 175 for the first time, she is thrust back into the life she managed to escape and discovers a secret that endangers the entire multiverse.
Gyre and his younger sister Maya lead a peaceful life with their parents on a vulpi farm until one day when Maya is five years old, a Centarch from The Twilight Order, Va’aht Thousandcuts, comes to take her away. The Order says this is necessary to save her from her illness, but Gyre refuses to let her go and Thousandcuts punishes him by taking his eye and leaving a permanent scar. Ever since, Gyre has been dead set on dismantling the Order and the Republic that they use their magic to uphold. Chasing rumors of a powerful artifact to use against the Order, he is finally reunited with his long lost sister. But Maya has spent her whole life training to protect what Gyre wants to destroy.
Thuan brings his husband Asmodeus home for the Lunar New Year expecting some awkward family reunions and a great deal of feasting. Instead, to Asmodeus’ great interest and delight, they come across a murdered corpse. Thuan is significantly less enthusiastic about this development than his husband but agrees to be pulled into the murder investigation in order to protect his family against a coup.
Gary, raised by an aloof grandfather in a rich family, has never wanted for money or beauty, only for love. Liam, a photographer who creates holograms, sees Gary on the train one day and, astonished by his beauty, requests to make a hologram of him. Gary agrees and Liam creates a masterpiece which highlights both his artistic skill and his awe for the other man. Liam's best friend, the cynical drag queen Lady Henrietta, believes this awe to be only a passing fancy but quickly becomes Gary's best friend as well, encouraging him in some of the more hedonistic parts of life. After tragedy strikes, it becomes apparent to Gary that his hologram ages while he does not. At first this is a blessing, allowing Gary to partake in any number of pleasures without worry for the consequences. But as his friends age without him and his life continues with little purpose, he realizes that maybe beauty and decadence aren't all they're made out to be.
I’m a big fan of stories in which the protagonist, for one reason or another, is at a disadvantage because they lack something everyone else has (a magical ability, for example). I like to read about the underdog, I suppose. This is what first caught my attention about The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso. Ryx, the main character, is the member of a powerful mage family, but her power is flawed such that she kills anything she touches. This also reminded me of Rogue from the X-Men whose character development I was always a little disappointed in because I liked the premise of her power/curse so much. So I was hoping to get a second chance at enjoying such a character when I picked up this book.
Padmé Amidala is young and ambitious, ascending to the throne as Queen of Naboo at the age of 14. Though the pacifist planet of Naboo seems entirely peaceful, General Panaka does not take his responsibility of protecting the Queen lightly. At Amidala’s suggestion, he finds her five handmaidens who support and protect the Queen, even serving as body doubles when necessary. These six teenagers must put aside their squabbles, families, and personal desires to rule a planet and administrate its foreign relations. What they prepared for but never expected comes to pass – Naboo is invaded and the Queen must protect her citizens at all costs, even as her handmaidens protect her.
A haunted desert, consciousness rotting away, statues that move after dark, woods that kidnap and devour, beings that can erase you from memory with only their touch – all of this and more is found in the 23 short stories of the Weird Dream Society anthology.
Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw is a remarkable and tragic story of blurred moral lines and characters who have been hated and abused, who want to be better if only the world would let them. It displays the self-perpetuating nature of hatred and deceit and the wreckage they leave behind as well as the critical role that our memories play in our identity.
Kalin Taylor is an ordinary college student who just wants to make his way up from the bottom of the totem pole. In an attempt to be initiated into a frat house, he enters the grounds of the top-secret, actually-not-so-secret GenTech facility that holds and trains the human clone Project Tau. Cloning humans is possible but still difficult in this world, and such clones are worth a lot of money because they don’t have the same rights that a natural-born human does and so can be used as workers or soldiers doing things that humans don’t want to do. The clones are also often modified with claws or special strength and speed so they can do things that humans aren’t able to do.