I like some anthologies, I’m a fan of free, and lately I’ve found Tor to selecting great work. Plus, I liked the first Fierce Reads anthology, so I opened this up with some pleasure. Unfortunately, this second volume simply didn’t live up to its predecessor.
- Ann Aguirre’s “Foundation” started strong, but petered out, lost in a middleground between a strong story and a longer work. As with others in the book, it suffers from almost certainly being written as an introduction to a larger world, and doesn’t stand very well on its own.
- Elizabeth Fama’s “Men Who Wish to Drown” felt complete, and was a decent story. It was substantially hampered by stiff language that attempts to mimic the style of an earlier era, but winds up getting in the way of the story. It’s a shame, because I thought this was one of the better stand-alone stories in the group, and it is worth fighting through the stilted beginning, but a more rigorous edit would have gone a long way to break the story loose from its crusty foundation.
- Caragh O’Brien’s “Ruled” was promising, but more as an indication of what’s in the related work than for itself. It reads very much as a fragment of something larger. There’s pretty good worldbuilding going on, but not much actually happens in this particular story.
All in all, a disappointing followup to the first Fierce Reads anthology, and a pretty strong confirmation that the purpose here is to offer a sampler or teaser to sell longer work, not to offer stories that are good in themselves. I can’t really recommend it unless you are specifically looking for new authors. It’s interesting that this collection also includes the two strongest works from the first anthology. Perhaps an acknowledgement that this one is not as strong?