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Fantastic Hope

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Fantastic Hope edited by Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey is a collection of 16 short stories by science fiction and fantasy authors. Some are well known. Others are just starting out. All of the stories are new. Included in the anthology are: Jonathan Maberry, Sharon Shinn, Larry Correia, Kacey Ezell, Griffin Barber, Kevin J. Anderson, John G. Hartness, Patricia Briggs, Robert E. Hampson, L.E. Modesitt Jr, Patrick M. Tracy, M.C. Sumner, William McCaskey, Michael Williamson and Jennifer Schlenker, Monalisa Foster, and Laurell K. Hamilton. 

I rated all of the stories as I read them. All but 3 of them I rated as 4 stars or 5 stars. Those three I rated as 3 stars. My favorites leaned towards urban fantasy, though I pretty much liked them all. My two favorites were the story by Patricia Briggs and the story by Laurell K. Hamilton. Overall, I rate this anthology as 4 out of 5 stars. The stories are engaging and well-written. And most have a positive ending of some sort. 

If you enjoy science fiction and fantasy with a positive twist, then this would be a good anthology for you. It's also a good introduction to a variety of writers. 

Fantastic Hope was published April 7th, 2020 by Berkley Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my review.
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Given today’s current pandemic situation these are paranormal short stories many of us might need right now. The outcome of each story is positive in some way. For many of these authors this is a unique ending as they tend to have things go badly more often than not in their stories.
Here’s some comments for each story:

Story #1 - Twilight Falls (Joe Ledger): by Jonathan Maberry
Everyone by now knows Maberry is a superb writer. His quick paced action, witty characters, and subtle plot twists always amuse. This short story is no different. Great ending that questions who the “bad guys” really are.

Story #2 - Not in this Lifetime: by Sharon Shinn
Well wow! In such a short story I want to know every characters story and hear about it all. Really well done and established.

Story #3 - Mr. Positive, the Eternal Optimist: by Larry Correia
Absolutely hilarious! This legit made me smile.
So far this set of stories is exactly as advertised and the perfect compilation to help dissipate some of the awfulness of 2020.

Story #4 - No Greater Love: by Kacey Ezell
Based on a Mormon folktale this story has the heart, courage, and ferocity of the wolves discussed within it.

Story #5 - Broken Son: by Griffin Barber
This could easily be expanded into a full novel; if not an on-going series. It starts off simple enough with a criminal on trial and by the end we are in space, dealing with neuropsychology, and contemplating other life’s existence. An easy 5 stars.

Story #6 - Heart of Clay by Kevin J. Anderson
I swear Kevin J. Anderson and I are like the same personality through and through. I always love his writing, his dry-ish humour is like my own, and he comes up with unique, creative, yet relatable stories that I love.
This one is no different; a short story set in his Dan Shamble PI series. A great intro to this series or to Anderson's writing.

Story #7 - Reprise by John G. Harris
This story is set in an existing world, Quincy Harker, that is intriguing (as it’s based on Dracula). Unfortunately the story itself felt too ‘thrown-in’ for me. I didn’t have any connection with the characters and felt like I was reading a personal story I shouldn’t be. It was awkward in the end as I don’t know the characters.

Story #8 - Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs
Classic and typical Briggs story. But I don’t mind that at all as you know exactly what you are getting into.
I really like this Asil and may need to look up which of her series he stars in.

Story #9 - In the Dust by Robert E. Hampson An adorable story about a couple trying to preserve history on their moon colony.

Story #10 - Fallen by L. E. Modesittt, Jr.
Ugh. A bit much for wording and explanations. Got bored quickly.

Story #11 - Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy
This is a story about something I’ve longer been intrigued by since a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode as a kid. If you had a terminal illness and could be saved by becoming a vampire, would you choose that life over none at all? 
This is an interesting perspective on that question.

Story #12 - Last Contact by M. C. Sumner
Brilliant! A great take on aliens visiting earth.

Story #13 - Ronin by William McCaskey
Oh wow... that may be one of the most moving short stories I have read in a very long time. I actually forgot all these stories were supposed to have happy endings as I was sure it would go another way as I read.
A magical teddy bear helps a dad and his daughter in their dreams, and real life. The dad has PTSD from a war and isn’t doing well... *shivers*

Story #14 - Skjolfmodir by Michael Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker
This is a widely known, old story written from the perspective of the mother of ‘the monster’. Poor Grendel whom; in this version of the tale, didn’t deserve what happened.
“But if they sing of him for a thousand years, they must also sing of me.”

Story #15 - Bonds of Love and Duty by Monalisa Foster
I liked this one and really wanted a lot more of it than we got. This is a solid idea that could easily be expanded into a full novel.

Story # 16 - Zombie Dreams (Anita Blake) by Laurell K. Hamilton
I started to read this and then realized I’m about four books behind in this series and there might be spoilers. So I’ve skipped past it just in case.

I highly recommend this set of stories. If not to find some new authors or series to try out; but just to lift your spirits a little in the dark days of early 2021 we are living in.
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Oh but a Fantastic Hope this was!  Perfect stories to entertain, to frighten, to bring a bit of suspense sometimes, yet to always leave me with a feeling of hope.  I loved taking this book to bed, perfect sized snippets to finish without keeping me up all night.  

The content varied so widely, that there was not a single moment I found myself bored or skimming pages.  Of course there were my favorites, but there were truly none that I disliked.  From wolves, to zombies, vampires, aliens, and Teddy Bears.  Addictive, compelling, and a worthy addition to any bookshelf.
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I was really looking forward to this book until I read Laurell K. Hamilton's story.  I don't know if she meant a certain line to come off transphobic but it came across that way to me and it ruined the story for me.  I couldn't finish it.  I would not recommend this book to my patrons without first knowing more about Laurell K. Hamilton's intentions here.  It's a shame as I truly love a majority of the other authors.  I may have read it wrong and I do apologize if I did, but the line wrote seemed really insensitive towards transgender women.
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I’m going to start this by saying my main reason for wanting to review this ARC (kindly from NetGalley) is because of Patricia Briggs new story ‘Asil and The Not-Date’. 

Learning more about Asil from the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega world is always fascinating. As he is portrayed as this unstable monster. But then you read these date stories and find out that while he is an old werewolf that has some control issues he is genuinely interested in getting to know new people. As he enjoys the challenge of completing this bet with the mysterious friends that keep setting him up with these dates.

This ‘date’ follows Asil as he gets set up on an online friend app called “Plantonic Plantophiles – A Meeting Place for Plant Lovers.” with a lady that goes by the name Tammi. This non date goes well until Tammi gets a call to rescue children that she works - she is a social worker. While Asil and Tammi are rescuing the children – a twist happens. This twist wasn’t unexpected as I figured this date wouldn’t end perfectly, otherwise we wouldn’t get another story, but it was kinda of sad. As Asil seemed to actually enjoy this Tammi and their conversations.
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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

Great collection of stories by talented authors!
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This is an anthology of kick butt authors. In all honesty, I was in with Patricia Briggs participating with a story about the werewolf Asil but happily enjoyed the respite from reality as you delve into complete and utter fantasy/scifi short story after short story.

With all multi-author anthologies, there is a huge range of writing styles. In the end, Fantastic Hope was a good read for me. I really enjoyed some and some stories were just okay.

The best part about reading anthologies, besides catching up on some favorite series, is discovering new authors that will be added to my to be read shelf.

I received this ARC copy of Fantastic Hope from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review. Fantastic Hope is set for publication April 7, 2020.

My Rating: 4 stars
Written by: Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey are joined by Kevin J. Anderson, Griffin Barber, Patricia Briggs, Larry Correia, Kacey Ezell, Monalisa Foster, Robert E. Hampson, John G. Hartness, Jonathan Maberry, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Jessica Schlenker, Sharon Shinn, M. C. Sumner, Patrick M. Tracy, and Michael Z. Williamson in this collection.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley (April 7, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0593099206
ISBN-13: 978-0593099209
Genre: Fantasy|Scifi Shorts Anthology

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This was book was honestly a treat. After toiling for weeks trying to find something to pique my interest, Fantastic Hope did just that.  The story is engaging and thrilling all at the same time.
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I will not be posting a review on my blog, but the negative review isn't the author's fault. Laurell K. Hamilton's writing just isn't for me. It isn't bad, by any means. It is just the style doesn't click with me. I wanted this book to be different, but it wasn't. I couldn't get into it. I am going to get it for a friend of mine that adores this author, but not for me.
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I found a couple new authors in this anthology, but I'll admit, I started a few short stories from some I'd never heard of and wasn't hooked. I ended up mostly reading authors I knew and loved. However, those stories were really good, and it was nice to revisit the worlds that they create.
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n Fantastic Hope, you find sixteen new stories from a variety of authors that all speak in some fashion or other of hope and renewal. I have encountered most of these author before so I sorta knew what I might find which was an very engaging set of stories. Not every one will enjoy every story, but the nice thing about a collection is that there is bound to be a couple that really make the collection for you. In my case it is probably Modesitt's "Fallen," Hartness' "Reprise," and Foster's "Bonds of Love and Duty." Some of the authors used characters out of other novels or stories they have written, while other authors introduced us to new characters to cheer for. Butif you are looking for a set of stories to read and enjoy, do pick up Fantastic Hope!
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I quite enjoyed this anthology and its variety in the kinds of stories it contained. It was also an opportunity to read work from a lot of authors I've never read before. In fact, Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, and Jonathan Maberry were the only authors in this collection I've read before.

I'll be honest the whole reason I picked it up was because of the Patricia Briggs story, Asil and the Not-Date. It also ended up being my favorite story of the whole collection. I love reading about Asil and his not-dates! And just like the others, this one was so good and had a surprise twist at the end! I enjoy Asil's not-dates almost as much as he does.

My other favorites in this collection were Last Contact by M.C. Sumner, Not in This Lifetime by Sharon Shinn, Mr. Positive, the Eternal Optimist by Larry Correia, Bonds of Love and Duty by Monalisa Foster, and Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy. I loved all of these so much! They were all so different from each other!

The only story I didn't like was Fallen by L.E. Modesitt Jr. It was confusing and time jumpy and it didn't hold my attention at all. I was a little bit meh about the Anita Blake story but I'm not a fan of the series. The rest of the stories in the collection were fun and I enjoyed them a lot!

Overall, I'd recommend picking this anthology up based on the variety of the stories alone but there's also quite a bit of quality in this collection.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
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This anthology meets it name beautifully.  I wanted to read this book because of two authors I admire - Patricia Briggs and Sharon Shinn.  In these hard times, I wanted to see what kind of story they create to inspire hope.  They delivered.  

In Ms. Briggs' story featured Asil who is a secondary character in one of her books.  This one, where he is featured again being forced to go on a blind date is hilarious. His dry sense of humour and his ability to take a slightly practical joke keeps me laughing throughout the story.  The plot twist threw me and that is what kept me entertained. 

Ms. Shinn's tale was not only mind blowing but poignant.  This topic on reincarnation can be a heavy subject.  She takes this, turns it on its head in a light humour way yet delivers brutal punches with the seriousness of the situation.  On top of this, she performs a left hook to the jaw with a plot twist that totally caught me off guard and breaks my heart.  This moving piece of past lives and remembrance is impressive.

For the most part, every story included generates a feeling of longing, yearning, redemption or hope.  With the exception of perhaps only 1 story which did nothing for me, all of them are a treasure to read.  The one that moved me most and caused me to tear up was Ronin's by William McCaskey.  His writing style may be unusual with the imagery.  The power of his descriptions invokes a certain melancholy reminding me of my darker days.  I am going to guess this is a self-reflection for him which makes this tale even more powerful.  It gives those of us who have not experienced such soul rending loss and maddening strip of power, a window in to the bleak aftermath.  I admire the demons the character wrestles with in Ronin.  I know of several of these unsung surviving warriors, trying to hold on to life, one day at a time.

I loved this book because it generates emotion in these jaded times.  It reminds me of humanity at its best and worst.  It reminds me to be humble.  This collection of stories is highly recommended to readers who are looking for tightly woven stories with fierce intensity.  Love it!
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A great collection of Sci-Fic with both old author and new authors. I enjoy the book and like the flow between the stories. I also think it a great collection of short stores to offer both old  readers of Sci-fic and new readers.
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica – ☆☆☆☆☆
Spoiler-Free Review

This won't be a comprehensive review of the content, simply because a small rundown of the plots would pretty much spoil most of the short stories, giving too much information away.

Fantastic Hope is an anthology of 16 short stories by different authors, each featuring the science fiction genre.

Laurell K. Hamilton (LKH) is one of my all-time favorite authors, the Anita Blake series at the top of my reread list. I was thrilled to read even the smallest of short stories in that universe, so I jumped at the chance to read Fantastic Hope. Other than LKH, Patricia Briggs is the only other author I've ever read previously. Both of their short stories were familiar to me, like a homecoming by seeing some of my favorite characters. I actually read the Anita Blake short twice, simply because it was nice to read something new in that universe.

Enjoying the anthology, I read about two shorts per day on average, trying to draw out the experience. Stepping away helped so that I didn't get the stories mixed up, and gave me time to research the author. Some of the stories were a massive hit for me, whetting my appetite to go back and search out the universe in which the story was born. Others were so-so, but still captured my interest to check out the author's backlist, simply because I was unfamiliar with their worlds.

Highly recommended. All in all, even if you're only familiar with one or two authors in the anthology, Fantastic Hope is a great opportunity to discover other science fiction authors, just a small taste of their writing style and the worlds they've created.

Sarah – ☆☆☆
As a slightly crazed Laurell K. Hamilton fan, I had really high hopes for this anthology but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

I’m honestly not sure how much of my ambivalent reaction to this collection is because of the actual stories or to the fact that I was quite unwell while reading and found it difficult to concentrate at times. I’m quite reluctant for anyone to be guided by my personal response to the anthology but I will try to outline some of my reservations.

Firstly, this collection of stories is a mashup of genres and I’m not sure the mix is completely successful. While I love Patricia Briggs’ and Laurell K Hamilton’s Urban Fantasy, I’m not a huge science fiction fan and I have to be in the right mood for action thrillers and philosophical diatribes.

I also worry that the timing of this collection isn’t brilliant. The first story is about a special ops team racing to prevent a pandemic – and I read it while quite ill from the pandemic that no one was able to stop. The preface talks about a collection of hopeful stories but the only stories I’m currently managing to engage with are fluffy romcoms – and I know I’m not alone. I found the violent action in too many of these stories difficult and some of the hope seemed quite intangible and ephemeral.

The preface also explains that this is a collection of stories by a mix of new and established writers. Usually, I love collections like this because I fall in love with at least one new writer. That didn’t happen here. I enjoyed Briggs’ and Hamilton’s stories but failed to engage with most of the others. I really couldn’t follow the story about Estefan and the battle between knowledge and belief and it took me ages to understand what was going on in the one about the teddy bear and the soldier with PTSD. I was thoroughly confused by the futuristic space adventure that doesn’t offer any real introduction or world building at the start. Again, I read this with a fever so some of my responses can be attributed to my addled brain.

Ultimately, while this anthology didn’t work for me, I hope the collection connects with other readers. As reviewers, we often sign up for books months ahead and have a limited window in which to read them before publication. I really wouldn’t have chosen to read this book during the past two weeks and I’m very aware that I might have engaged better with it at a different time.
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Mostly downloaded it for the Patricia Briggs story, which was absolutely fabulous. Really enjoyed seeing a bit more of Asil. Wish there had been a happier ending for him.
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While the Patricia Briggs story was by far my favourite, the other story's where all very fun and entertaining as well!
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Please note: I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review. 

Fantastic Hope is an anthology of short stories by some of today's most popular authors including Laurell K Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Jonathan Maberry, William McCaskey and more! I really enjoyed this collection. There was a varied mix of tales from cyborg assassins, bio terrorists, mormon werewolves, zombie detectives, crime dramas and more. Some of the stories made me laugh, some had me on the edge of my seat, others were engaging entertainment. There is a little something to appeal to a variety of readers. 

I was originally interested in this anthology for Laurell K Hamilton and Patricia Briggs' stories, so its no surprise that those two were my favorites in the book. If I had to pick one, my favorite story was Asil and the Not Date by Patricia Briggs. But there were other gems that I really enjoyed like Mr. Positive the Eternal Optimist by Larry Correia. This was a humorous little tale that will have you taking a second look at your outlook on life. I thought all of the stories were well written with interesting characters. The different writing styles, world building, time frames, and tone was also very refreshing. I'm not too sure why the book was titled Fantastic Hope, while most of the stories had happy endings there were still a lot of drama, murder, and bleak plights taking place that I didn't find it particularly hopeful overall. That being said this read was a nice distraction from current events.   
No surprises here, the stories I enjoyed the most fall into the sci-fi/fantasy end of the spectrum. I think what I like most about this collection, was exploring more of the worlds by the authors I was already familiar with like Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega series. But I was also excited to find new authors that I'd like to explore more, like Kevin J Anderson and John G Hartness. 

This gem published by Berkley is available for purchase from all major booksellers. I give Fantastic Hope 4 out of 5 gems. I enjoyed this collection and hope to read more collections like this in the future. Happy Reading!
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This review was originally posted on <a href="" target="_blank"> Books of My Heart</a>

<i>Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.</i>

<strong>Fantastic Hope</strong> is a scifi fantasy anthology with stories which offer hope.  In today's odd world, these are welcome.  There are only a few authors I have read previously, and only two stories with characters I already knew.

I am not going to do an in depth review of all the stories but I would say they were all enjoyable. None of them were bad or such that I wished I hadn't read it or anything.  I would place them into three groups: <strong>Ones I really loved</strong>,  Ones I really enjoyed, and <em>Ones I liked</em>.
 	Twilight Falls by Jonathan Mabarry - a Joe Ledger story

 	Not in This Lifetime by Sharon Shinn
         <strong>Mr. Positive, The Eternal Optimist</strong> by Larry Correia -  I really enjoyed Stanley and Chris.  It was terrifying and then funny.

 	<strong>No Greater Love</strong> by Kacey Ezell- There are some aspects about this which I usually wouldn't like (religious)  but Jennilee was awesome.

 	<em>Broken Son</em> by Griffin Barber

	Heart of Clay by Kevin J. Anderson - a Dan Shamble, Zombie PI adventure

 	Reprise by John G. Hartness - a Quincy Harker, demon hunter story

 	<strong>Asil and the Not-Date</strong> by Patricia Briggs - I know and love this world so this was very fun for me.

 	<strong>In the Dust</strong> by Robert E. Hampson - Scientists in the future on different planets.

 	<em>Fallen</em> by LE Modesitt, JR - This one felt too political or religious for my taste

 	Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy

 	Last Contact by MC Sumner - a fun alien encounter.

 	Ronin by William McCaskey - Dreams and nightmares of a human watched over with love.

 	<em>Skjoldmodir</em> by Michale Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker - I liked this story but it was so sad.

 	<strong>Bonds of Love and Duty</strong> by Monalisa Foster - Genetic engineering and the cultural racial biases vs. compassion and humanity.

 	<strong>Zombie Dearest</strong> by Laurell K. Hamilton - My favorite characters from the series, Anita Blake and Jean-Claude. I haven't read the most recent books but I was very happy to see these two tracking down a raised zombie gone wrong.

I sometimes have trouble with the start of a new book or series in this genre and so that was bound to happen with some of them.  I would rather have read this anthology over a longer period of time, leaving myself more time between stories to absorb and appreciate them.  I do recommend this anthology.   Some of the ones I really enjoyed come from series I would like to read now, because I realize I would have loved them with the background of a series I knew.
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Many of these authors are beloved and very popular with the urban fantasy fans. I've already ordered copies for my library and I know they will enjoy it. I'm not usually a big short story fan, and I wanted several of these to last longer as I really enjoyed the characters.
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