My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Samuel Peralta's series of Future Chronicles anthologies always provide a solid mix of indie and traditionally-published authors who are able to present their Big Ideas in short story format. This time around, the uniting theme is ... wait for it!... DINOSAURS! Who doesn't love a spec fic dinotopia mash-up? I'm not going to cover every story in this anthology, but below are some of my favorites.
The Jurassic Chronicles gets off to a strong start with Anthony J. Melchiorri's "Fatal Mutation," a near-future story of black-market genetic mixing set in his Black Market DNA series. I hadn't read the DNA books previously, but "Fatal Mutation" is blessedly straight-forward for newbies. I dug the combination of science on top of its beat cop characters, squaring off against a unique threat in an abandoned research facility.
Harry Manners takes us on a trip in the wayback machine to a story of alien first contact with Earth in "Sczar's Trial." The premise on this one is wonderfully simple, original, and makes a heck of a lot of sense. The story is told strictly from the dinosaurs point of view as an injured raptor makes a startling discovery.
I've been meaning to read Philip Harris's Glitch Mitchell novel, but have been slagging off on that. Thankfully, I got a really good taste of his pulp action hero here in "Glitch Mitchell and the Island of Terror," a story inspired in equal parts by Jurassic Park, James Bond, and Flash Gordon. The villain is over the top, his plan is deliciously diabolical, and the resulting piece is a fun bit of lighthearted entertainment. Harris keeps his story firing on all-cylinders with non-stop action that reminded me a bit of a Matthew Reilly novel.
Stant Litore delivers what I thought was the best story of the collection with "The Screaming of the Tyrannosaur." Young women compete in a brutal race with dinosaurs for the entertainment of the ruling class. The premise sounds simplistic, but Litore packs a lot into ~30 pages. The writing is beautiful, and the world he's created here is one I'm eager to explore more deeply. "Screaming" is set in the same universe as his previous title, The Running of the Tyrannosaur, which I haven't read but certainly will be.
Laxmi Hariharan delivers a Bourne-esque sci-fi thriller with "Ugly," that takes from pretty sharp turns amidst plenty of WTFerey. Piers Beckley plays around with private eye story tropes in "Monsters," infusing a bit of genetic mixing and sci-fi shenanigans into a story of a missing girl.
Seanan McGuire delivers a short story with the longest title ever in "Please Accept My Most Profound Apologies for What is About to Happen (But You Started It)." Dr. Constance O'Malley saw Jurassic Park when she was 12, a film that helped her escape the world of bullying inflicted upon her in her day-to-day life. Now, as an adult, she's going to make the world pay. McGuire closes out the collection with a deep and beautiful story of a psychologically scarred villain, hitting on present-day issues of sexism inherent in our justice system (O'Malley is nearly killed by her male tormentors, who escape punishment because 'we have to think about their future' ala Brock Turner). I loved this story and it provides a wonderful outlet for McGuire to say that which needs saying, while also providing plenty of motivation for the central character.
Overall, The Jurassic Chronicles is another strong entry in The Future Chronicles canon. Not every single story worked for me, which probably goes without saying for virtually any anthology, but there were enough hits to keep me bouncing along from story to story. Of course, one of the best aspects of works like this is discovering authors that are new to me. Litore and Melchiorri have been on my radar for a few years now, and it was terrific to finally read some of their stuff. Both have whole new worlds for me to dive into and explore, and that's always worth an anthology's price of admission for such a gateway.
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