I recently got an ARC of Alien Days, a multi-author anthology of science fiction featuring 21 stories. Here’s my quick, non-spoiler, thoughts my personal favourites of the bunch.
10. Am I Alone? An Odera Chronicles Short Story by J.R. Handley & Corey D. Truax
The more swigs she swallowed, the more interesting the forbidden door became.
This story starts grounded in a realistic setting and then quickly jumps into the weird and wonderful. While I found the tone a bit all over the place, this was an entertaining read. It certainly left me wondering what happens next.
9. The Law of the Jungle by Mickey Ferron
The Creature was passing fifty-two percent of mission time duration busily mapping the positions of the constellations in the sky above when its senses identified multiple lifeforms approaching…
When a malicious creature lands on Earth, only a pack of wolves has the chance to stop it. As someone in the conservation field, there’s a lot of details in this that I enjoyed. Both story length and sentence length could be cut a little shorter, but overall it’s an engaging, action-focused read.
8. A Series of Anomalous Phenomena by D.B. Crelia
“The Butaka pay very well for these specialty items. We have coordinates. It’s in a sparsely populated area. We’re in. We’re out. No problem.”
The story of an alien heist on Earth, where the exact purpose of the mission is left in mystery. I wish a little more was revealed rather than implied, but those implications and how they might affect the future of the main character got my brain turning. A quick, action-packed read worth checking out.
7. A Bolt From The Blue by S.K. Gregory
The way Tyler walked, the way he held himself, it was like looking at a completely different person.
A couple go on a hiking trip which goes terribly wrong, as hiking trips tend to do. A fast-paced read the hurtles toward a compelling cliff hanger.
6. And The Light Faded by Lisa Fox
And there was nothing to do but run. Or die.
It’s 2023 and the new year is kicked off with an alien invasion. This survival story follows Rosa, a grieving mother whose inner struggles are nicely linked to her external battle with what remains of the world. It’s a well-written tragedy that feels real.
5. Altered by Alexander Harrington
“—something in the rain” a clipped and barely audible voice pronounces.
One of those rare stories told in second-person, a point of view that will make or break this for a lot of readers. The story follows the unnamed protagonist who is helpless against a supernatural phenomena suddenly unravelling their peaceful life. Immersive and creepy, this is worth a read even if second-person narratives aren’t your thing.
4. Within The Storm by Beth Frost
Under the cloak it had passed for human, but without the concealment…
One day during a terrible storm, a farm girl gets an unexpected house guest. This utterly adorable story has simple characters and a heartwarming end. A tale of friendship, family, and peace, this is a delightful read.
NOTE: I haven’t linked Beth Frost because I can’t find her online anywhere. If anyone can help out, please let me know. It’s important to me to promote authors and to give my readers a place to search for their work. Thank you.
3. Ambassador T by Quincy J Allen
This was the greatest moment in human exploration, and it was taking place over, basically, a picnic table.
A team of human explorers make contact with an alien life form. When one of them strikes up an endearing friendship with the alien, it soon leads to a dark and unexpected conclusion. I really enjoyed this. T is adorable. (Or is he?)
2. Antithesis by Mitch Goth
…they will activate their translator, but don’t expect to hear anything. Like we said, they communicate little.
Love this one. It accounts a conversation between humans and an alien race, who bring a concerning message. It’s simple but effective, with a surprisingly optimistic end, the kind that is usually missing from this kind of existential sci-fi drama.
1. Where All The Memories Are One by Leigh Saunders
Would I have encouraged my sister-Queens to allow the humans to stay with us, to study our ways and we theirs, had I known where it would lead?
An excellent story told from the perspective of an alien queen, accounting her meeting with humans and the days that followed. Too often, science-fiction can lose me as new concepts are thrown in without time to understand them or to care. Not here. The world-building is clear and immersive, easily getting me to feel for this race despite knowing them for only a few pages.
As with any anthology, there were some stories I didn’t enjoy and some I had mixed feelings on, but all of them had interesting ideas worth checking out. If you’re a science fiction fan looking for something to read, you might want to consider picking up a copy.