Pros: wide variety of stories, some excellent artwork, inclusive stories
Cons: often abrupt endings, not hard SF, some artwork I didn’t care for
First off, reviews are subjective. Everyone likes different things. This is even more apparent when it comes to artwork. So while some of the stories and some of the artwork didn’t appeal to me, that won’t be true for everyone. There’s quite a variety of both stories and artwork here, and the ones that didn’t work for me might turn out to be your favourites.
I was surprised by how many stories had retrofitted cars as spaceships. In fact, don’t think too much about the science in most of the stories as they generally don’t deal with the practicalities of space (like oxygen, radiation shielding, gravity, food, water, waste). The few that did, stood out, and I really enjoyed them.
There are 21 stories in this collection, and some of them are very short, almost more vignettes than full short stories. Some of them end abruptly, which I didn’t like.
The black and white artwork was varied. Some of the stories were gorgeous, some had artwork I couldn’t stand.
I loved the inclusive nature of the stories. There was a variety of characters from different racial backgrounds and sexual identities.
On the whole the collection is a good mix. There are some real knockout stories and some I personally didn’t care for, but it’s worth the read.
“M.S.P.I.P.S.P” by Kay Rossbach
**** Louanne Davis navigates the spaceport with her daughter before their flight to Mars to reunite with her wife. - I enjoyed the artwork. Anyone’s who’s flown will sympathize with Louanne’s plight as one thing after another goes wrong.
“Lia” by Alexxander Dovelin
**** A woman’s life work is used to capture experiences of space as viewed by androids. - The artwork seemed a little more realistic in style. I liked the story. It’s about finding people who believe in you, as you navigate a world where profit is everything.
“Microwave” by Jay Eaton
**** Rowan’s on her way to use a warp pod to travel to Seatle, but her uncles are driving her nuts with their talk of safety issues. - Not my favourite art style, but an interesting short story about being prepared to act when things go wrong.
“Cabbage Island” by Mulele Jarvis
**** Yu’s dream is to build a car that can warp through space in the hopes of finding a new planet to live on, as the world gets worse and worse. - I liked the artwork and the story was engaging. Not sure when Hondo had time to bake the cookies, and the ending wasn’t to my taste.
“Passing Through” by Jamie Kaye and Sunny
** Two friends chat about what they’re up to now. - There were a few panels (the ones in the bar) where I wasn’t sure what was going on. I do love the idea of having a personal transporter though, and being able to tour the world/galaxy. I was left wondering how the phone didn’t cut out each time the man teleported.
“Last Exit” by Christine Williamson and M. Kennedy
* Mary runs away from home to space and gets caught by the predatory bureaucracy. - I was not a fan of the artwork. I found the small script crowded and hard to read. Changing the engine’s not enough to make a car space worthy and she was woefully unprepared for the trip considering she left when she did out of pique rather than need.
“Ignition” by Iris Jay and Skolli Rubedo
* Rhea and Imogen are a salvage team hired by a fascist leader to recover the Discovery shuttle. - I didn’t like the artwork for this story and the story left me with a several questions.
“Wayhome” by Evan Dahm
*** A family makes a home in a new place, leaving the city behind. But isolation breeds paranoia. - I liked aspects of this story. The artwork was interesting and there’s a great paranoia reaction at one point. The ending was strange.
“Space to Grow” by N.N. Chan
***** A young astrobiologist blogging about her first solo assignment is beset by internet trolls. - I liked the artwork. I also appreciated that it depicts a common problem for internet creators. Negative comments can really bring you down, even if you’re doing what you love.
“Soft Physics” by Blue Delliquanti
*** People in disparate communities await packets of info, some of which contain the exploits of Phoney and Mandy. - The artwork wasn’t quite my style. The story was interesting but didn’t have much of a conclusion.
“Brilliant + Handsome” by C.B. Webb
*** Two boys build ships to go to Mars, one in a car, the other in a washing machine. - Didn’t like the artwork. I had to read the ending twice to understand what happened, but really liked it once I got it.
“Failsafe” by Rachel Ordway
** A pilot tries to commit suicide via black hole. - More of a vignette than a story, it does portray frustrated despair very well.
“I Want to Be Alone” by Seren Krakens
* Fed up with life among slobs, the protagonist takes off alone to find the perfect planet where they can be alone. - I found the artwork very confusing and had a difficult time understanding what was going on.
“Finders Keepers” by Ahueonao
***** Three friends attempt to loot an abandoned luxury space station whose AI killed the previous guests and crew. - Loved the artwork and the story was a lot of fun.
“Prodigal Sunset” by Sara Duvall and James F. Wright
*** A group of teens from various planets try to find a cure for the strange illness they share. - Nice artwork. I was left with a lot of questions.
“Words From the Dead” by Jonathon Dalton
**** Two archaeologist study the remains of the long dead Taucetian society. - I appreciated that the author paid some attention to science in this story. The artwork was ok. Loved the story’s ending.
“Story of a Rescue” by Nathaniel Wilson
*** Two kids and their pilot are heading out to find their dead beat step-dad. - The kids told a lot of back story, which seemed a bit odd as the pilot was older than them and I’d have expected him to have a better sense of current affairs. Loved the ending.
“Solitary” by David Andry and Paul Schultz
**** A prisoner’s sentence is commuted provided he sign on to a new program. - Interesting story that was well executed.
“Graddad’s Second Wife” by Cheez Hayama and Earl T. Roske
**** Sergio’s granddad needs help keeping his new wife - an alien - from ICE. - The alien was kind of disturbing, but the story was otherwise fun.
“The Senior Project” by Maia Kobabe
**** While other kids work on FTL thesis projects, Willow cultivates a fast-growing crop of Adzuki beans. - I liked the relationship that formed between Willow and Kai, as they both worked on their projects. I also liked the practical applications for Kai’s teleporter.
“My Stars and Garters” by Ainsley Seago
**** A couple builds a spaceship so they can live their most authentic Victorian lives away from people who find them strange. - I suspect people who live differently would be among the first to leave Earth should an FTL drive become cheaply available. An enjoyable end to the collection.