Posted on September 7, 2009 by Matt-M-McElroy
When I first heard that Permuted Press was going to release a “robot” anthology I was a little skeptical. The folks at Permuted had done well sticking to the zombie/post-apocalyptic genre and I wondered what was up with the branch of into sci-fi. Nothing wrong with with it really, just me wondering what was up.
Anyway, I got the book a little while ago and had only manged to read the first couple of stories before getting really busy with conventions. I finally manged to get back into the collection just this week.
Like most anthologies Robots Beyond has a mix of great fiction and not-so-great stories. With this many different authors and concepts in one collection there is bound to be a few tales that stand out among the set as awesome reads and fun adventures. Also, not everyone is going to enjoy the same stories. Different writing styles and characters will appeal to different readers. Stories that I like may not work for someone else, the opposite holds true as well.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I picked up the book, but the mix of genres did end up surprising me a little. Sci-Fi? Sure thing, these are robot stories after all. Horror? I could see that. Fantasy? Um, wait a minute. Still I give the authors and editors some credit for trying to expand the theme a bit and not just offer us another tired collection of Sci-Fi stories. I think it is great when a collection explores other options.
My favorite stories from the collection are:
The Last Protector by Billy Wong
This is one of the Fantasy stories I wasn’t sure would work when I first picked up the book. I mean swords & sorcery is not the first genre I think of when someone mentions robots. Still Billy WOng pulled it off quite well. The “robots” in this particular tale remind just a bit of the Golden Army from Hellboy II only with a few more speaking roles. Our heroine Pyrna is a powerful battle-mage and seems to be the only one thinking that using an army of unstoppable killing machines might turn out badly.
Tinman by J.A. Lynn
An action-packed war story told from the point of view of an old man. This tired veteran is being interviewed about his tour of duty with a unique soldier, his friend Tinman (not really his name, but that is what the guys called him). Mixed in with some brutal memories of war is a tale of friendship and loss.
Like any good anthology, Robots Beyond has a good mix of writing styles, with experienced authors and fresh talent all together in one book. Stories I enjoyed may not work for someone else, but there is plenty of good material to go around.
As I mentioned earlier, this collection takes the concept of “robots” and explores several different genres keeping you guessing as to what form that robotic technology is going to take. This anthology is well worth picking up if you are looking for something that goes beyond the standard robotics and three laws stories we’ve all seen time and time again. Every once in awhile it can be good to shake things up a bit and look at our favorites through different lenses.
Review by Matt M McElroy