REVIEW: Where the Stars Rise – Anthology
SHORT DESCRIPTION: Take a journey through Asia and beyond with twenty-three original thought-provoking and moving stories about identities, belonging, and choices—stories about where we come from and where we are going—each wrestling between ghostly pasts and uncertain future.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE UNIVERSAL.
WE LIVE, WE DREAM, WE STRIVE, WE DIE . . .
Follow twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors on their journeys through Asia and beyond. Stories that explore magic and science. Stories about love, revenge, and choices. Stories that challenge ideas about race, belonging, and politics. Stories about where we come from and where we are going. Each wrestling between ghostly pasts and uncertain future. Each trying to find a voice in history.
Orphans and drug-smuggling in deep space. Mechanical arms in steampunk Vancouver. Djinns and espionage in futuristic Istanbul. Humanoid robot in steamy Kerala. Monsters in the jungles of Cebu. Historic time travel in Gyeongbok Palace. A rocket launch in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. A drunken ghost in Song Dynasty China. A displaced refugee skating on an ice planet. And much more.
Embrace them as you take on their journeys. And don’t look back . . .
I saw this cover and immediately clicked on it to read the blurb and discover all about it. Since it’s an anthology, I crossed my fingers that there would be some stories I’d like even though I generally don’t read Sci-Fi, Steampunk or dystopian books. Wonder of wonders, most of the entries kept me involved, interested and eager to see what would happen next. I began hoping to entertained and ended satisfied and glad I’d read the book.
Two students in Song Dynasty China must discover how a drunken spirit can possess their bodies and free themselves of it in time to be sober enough to take their civil service exams.
A Turkish AI expert needs to find one of the djinn he was working on before it mysteriously lost control wreaking havoc, forcing him to flee Earth which put him in the debt of a deadly alien determined to own it for himself.
Two orphaned Japanese sisters struggle to survive in a post disaster world where civilization has broken down and fear is around every corner.
A young biracial mother seeks to alter her daughter’s DNA to have a Caucasian princess like those she used to watch on videos to escape her angry white father but will curly blonde hair buy her daughter the acceptance or happiness she herself had longed for?
Ayla’s “diversity” checks all the needed boxes to earn her a slot on the Mars mission – which rankles but still, she’s going. Will she find the forgiveness there neither she nor her sister have ever given her over a terrible event from her past? An elderly Canadian-Japanese woman revisits her past through time travel – or is it merely Alzheimer’s – and recalls her internment life during WWII.
A Chinese physicist defies the prediction of an old Beijing fortune teller to take part in an experiment to transport him to another dimensional plane. But was the experiment a failure? A Philippine pathologist on Mars who left her broken life on Earth discovers via memory recovery technology that her husband never forgot her or their life together before the earthquakes destroyed their life together.
A practical Chinese woman is haunted by a male ghost willed to her ten years ago by Grand Auntie Du. Mrs. Liu might call China jia but neither she nor her husband have lived there in years. Now that her daughter has decided to extend her one year teaching commitment, it’s time to put Operation: Retrieve a daughter into action. When the fourteenth day of the seventh lunar month, the eve of the Spirit Festival arrives while Mrs. Liu is in Beijing, the ghosts come charging out. As she, her daughter and Ghost wander the streets, her memories of old China give way to modern China. Ghost is searching for his past while Mrs. Liu’s daughter tries to break her future to her mother.
In a 1928 world of airships and implants, a young Japanese-Canadian teenager bargains to get the mechanical arm she needs to help her father earn a living. But is the price too high? Is the lifelike robot a grieving techie son built of his father just an uncanny resemblance – or something more?
An immigrant learns the truth behind the evacuation of her home planet and tries to right the extermination of her people. An orphaned refugee grows up psychologically damaged from a space raid on his family. A Chinese legal advocate chillingly seeks vengeance on the noble family who hurt his friend and didn’t show him respect. A priest’s only daughter is sworn to be the wife of a god then leads more gods in a battle against the enemy at Mohenjo-daro who destroyed their warriors. Three children on a lunar base frantically attempt to discover what danger their mother might be in from an alien crash landing on the moon.
Two Korean superheroes tire of hiding their true ethnicity – especially after Hollywood whitewashed the film made about one of them. A spider-jinn sets off to a new life, starting her own clan. A Philippine warrior hunts a tree spirit, and must compete against his own brothers, during a test to determine the next village chief.
A young Indonesian teenager ventures from home to Jayakarta where her grandfather built a forbidden bridge which is punishable by death to use. When a fate worse than death faces her, will Nira find peace or her future on it? A college student desperately searches for a way to escape her pattern of past life deaths but is the offer to help her from someone she can trust? In a future Sri Lanka, government implants have software code that visually wipes out the undesirables from your sight. An adopted refugee must decide whether to ignore his ethnic past or speak out in protest.
With most anthologies I can expect to get a few great stories, some good ones, some not bad and one or two that I just don’t see eye to eye with. Here the quality is overall excellent which is an unexpected treat given the number of stories included. As the editors mention in the forward, all the authors are of Asian ethnicity and the majority of the stories use Asian settings. There are historicals, futuristic, space settings, fantasies, Sci-Fi, with male and female protagonists of all ages. I learned about different counties and times and events. I traveled to the moon and other planets. Some stories are funny, some are sad, some have happy endings and others were bittersweet but I’d be willing to bet that readers with even a passing interest in these genres would find a few to appeal and many to enjoy. Overall, a B+