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REVIEW: A Galactic Holiday Anthology by Stacy Gail, Sasha Summers,...

A Galactic Holiday Anthology by Stacy Gail, Sasha Summers, and Anna HackettWhen looking around at the holiday offerings this year, I saw this anthology from Carina Press. It was a complete stab in the dark for me as I knew nothing about any of the authors and SF/futuristic usually isn’t my thing. Perhaps having no expectations allowed me to just read in the moment but I finished with some new authors to watch out for. The anthology is available for purchase as a whole or the novellas can be bought separately.

“Do androids dream of electric sugar plums?

A detective who refuses to modify her body teams up with her cyborg rival to track down a burglar who is putting toys into homes. A solitary ice miner finds love and friendship while stranded on the surface of Galileo. And two hardheaded negotiators put their differences aside to evade an assassin and save their planets.”

How the Glitch Saved Christmas by Stacy Gail

A stubborn non mechanized detective and an equally stubborn and madly in love bodmod detective discover in each other the happiness and joy of the season they each thought lost.

The story utilizes a ‘not totally dystopian’ near future world and is done well. There’s enough here that’s familiar mixed with enough to suggest futuristic developments without going overboard about it and letting this take over the human interest aspect of the story. The initial friction between Raine and Wicke is over their advancement in the Chicago Police Department which then shifts to the fact that Raine keeps resisting the department directive to get bodmods. Her reasoning is presented and makes sense just as Wicke’s decision to use the new technology to allow himself to be a better cop also makes sense. Pros and cons on both sides lead to each understanding the other’s position and being at peace with it.

Both are shown as good cops, intuitive and determined to solve the somewhat strange crime that’s been reported. The resolution adds a neat touch to their discovery of each other and love when they find the spirit of trust and Christmas giving from someone who shouldn’t have these at all. Oh, and I love the title of the oft mentioned Christmas carol, “Gimme, Santa, gimme.”. Are there words to this?

The story feels complete without being rushed and as a tech holdout myself, I could appreciate a heroine who is described as a Luddite. B

Galileo’s Holiday by Sasha Summers

An ice miner now stranded on an frozen outpost planet discovers love with an enigmatic man of mystery amid the strange holiday celebrations of the settlers who live there.

I am in shock and tickled pink to have gotten two great stories in a row. Perhaps I need to be reading more SF?

Again the novella feels complete and unrushed which is a rarity in anthologies. Usually either there’s not enough space to give a full story or I don’t get fully engaged in the novella because there’s not enough to make me care. Here I get a full world experience, a love story I believe plus a holiday story of sorts. It’s kind of a mix of Thanksgiving and Christmas but that’s fine and makes sense as it’s presented and the way these people celebrate these holidays is the way it ought to be done. The world building is detailed enough for the needs of the story without either over or under doing it. The setting is totally off Earth but with distant echoes of what we know so as not to feel totally strange.

I liked the twist of characterization of Riley and Leo and will admit that when I read the novella description, I got the placement wrong. Here the social hero must woo the skittish heroine who has to be persuaded that a relationship is a good thing. It’s got tension, excitement, enough that’s different to capture my imagination, a heroine who is skilled at what she does – and makes no apologies for that – plus a yummy hero who obviously falls for her immediately. And appreciation for books! And food! A-

Winter Fusion by Anna Hackett

She’s a tough planetary negotiator but he thinks he’s tougher. She already dislikes him due to a past conflict while he won’t let anything stand in the way of winning a coveted promotion even if he does insist on negotiating during her planetary holiday.

I had hopes for a trio of excellence but alas, for me it was not to be. This one has an interesting start with an uber controlled hero who seems like he will be matched by an equally strong, though more openly emotional, heroine. There is much at stake and an already established conflict that is real and not manufactured. Then the hero arrives on the snow planet. Sparks of dislike and disdain fly until an outside force pushes these two together in life or death peril. With all that, this one should have worked but this is the story which annoyed me.

Perhaps because the strong heroine has turned wimpy in the face of danger – to the point where the hero has to yell at her to snap out of it (shades of Moonstruck) and help them survive the cold conditions of her damn planet. Perhaps because the heroine is ogling, to the point of inertia, the shivering hero while she’s stripping him to warm him up. Even she realizes she needs to stop this. Then after time together, she can tell that he’s just aching to be loved. This description is repeated and each time it made me imagine a lost puppy rather than an adult man. Finally the hero then starts to go emo – way emo. To finish, a standard final conflict drags the story out to an equally standard resolution. C-

~Jayne

 

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

20 Comments

  1. Sasha Summers
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 09:08:08

    Hi Jayne,
    Thanks so very much for reading and reveiwing the anthology! I admit I had a fantastic time writing Leo and Riley’s story. And your review – wow – I’m absolutely tickled pink that you so enjoyed it! Happy Holidays to you!

  2. Estara
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 09:24:08

    “Here the social hero must woo the skittish heroine who has to be persuaded that a relationship is a good thing. It’s got tension, excitement, enough that’s different to capture my imagination, a heroine who is skilled at what she does – and makes no apologies for that – plus a yummy hero who obviously falls for her immediately. ”

    If you like this set-up, you should try Elizabeth Scarborough’s and Anne McCaffrey’s Powers That Be. The first book anyway, I thought the later books weren’t quite as good. But that’s a meaty sf with this romantic subplot. And the heroine is awesome.

  3. Janine
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 09:32:33

    What a neat review. You got me interested in the first two stories and I almost never read SFR. A shame about the last story — your issues with it are ones I would have too, so I don’t think it would appeal to me.

  4. Brie
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 10:40:17

    I wasn’t planning on reading this one, but you have convinced me! Have you read the Kinsmen novellas by Ilona Andrews? I think you may like them.

  5. Angela James
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 10:49:10

    @Brie:

    Same editor who edited this anthology edited the first Kinsmen novella ;)

  6. Jayne
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:23:43

    @Janine: Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. And add some bonus points for the 2 being totally unexpected.

  7. Jayne
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:26:04

    @Brie: No, I haven’t read anything by Andrews (hangs head in shame) but it’s always nice to have a recommended starting point.

  8. Jayne
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:28:17

    @Sasha Summers: I admit I finished it with a burning desire to make some homemade biscuits and happy that I don’t have to rely on force fields to keep beasties back.

  9. Janine
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 13:18:02

    @Jayne: Oh, yes. But I saw that the novellas are also available individually, so I downloaded kindle samples of the first two.

  10. Sasha Summers
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 14:25:25

    @Jayne:

    LOL!!! Biscuits – YES! Beasties – we’ll leave them on Galileo. ;)

  11. Jayne
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 14:43:38

    @Janine: I was happily excited to see that the novellas could be bought individually.

  12. Jenny Schwartz
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 17:01:28

    The Kinsmen novels are cool. I like Silver Shark the best. But I love having SF rom stories for Christmas. I thought the 3 stories in the antho balanced each other…taking really different aspects of SF. Not all anthos work that well.

  13. Amy
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 22:35:25

    Thanks for this review. I enjoy SFRs and this sounds like a good book to try. I also recommend the two Kinsmen novellas. Those were my first I. Andrews stories, and I was so impressed at what they managed to convey in a novella format that I followed up buying all the Kate Daniel books. I wish they’d write a full length novel in the Kinsmen world; but nothing on their website suggests that they have another Kinsmen story in the works.

  14. Amy
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 22:37:29

    If anyone else has recommendations for good SFRs, please share!

  15. Anna Hackett
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 23:09:03

    Hi Jayne –
    Sorry to hear WINTER FUSION didn’t work for you, but still happy to be reviewed at Dear Author!! I’ll take that C- and own it (-:

    And I am thrilled you loved Sasha and Stacy’s stories and have made A GALACTIC HOLIDAY a recommened read. Happy Holidays.

  16. Stacy Gail
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 01:45:52

    Hi Jayne,

    Your question about “Gimme, Santa, Gimme” made me gigglesnort, as it pretty much matched the Copy Editor’s question during final edits. To answer, it’s something I invented for this story, so feel free to make up your own words to it, I won’t mind in the least. :D Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

    @Angela — you edited the 1st Kinsmen novella? That’s so cool! *fangirl flail*

  17. cleo
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 15:27:52

    @Amy: SFR recs:

    Collision Course by Zoe Archer – space opera novella with smuggler pilot heroine and uptight captain hero

    Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair – also has a disreputable pilot heroine, with a by-the-books android hero. It’s a rivals to lovers romance and it has my favorite male cyborg virgin hero ever.

    Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz / Jayne Castle – this is an early SFR, from the 80s, and I think it holds up well. This one has a sheltered heroine, raised on a planet of serene psychics paired with a bad boy captain of a small space ship. And she turns out to be pretty badass.

    Hm – there’s a theme here. I’m sure I’ve read SFR that doesn’t have a bad-boy/bad-girl space pilot as one of the protags, but that’s what comes to mind immediately.

  18. Jenny Schwartz
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 17:30:27

    I love “Sweet Starfire”! Also Anne McAffrey’s first brainship book – title escapes me. Tia was such a great heroine.

  19. Janine
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 21:50:29

    It’s The Ship Who Sang. I need to read that someday, seeing as Dragonflight was my favorite book in my teen years.

    Sweet Starfire was fun. I recommend Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, beginning with Archangel. These are SF/F with romantic elements and HEAs. Also, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Barrayar.

  20. Amy
    Dec 08, 2012 @ 02:42:58

    @cleo: Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll go check them out.

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