Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 23
Authors: Will Swardstrom, Nathan M. Beauchamp, Bob Williams, S. Elliot Brandis & Daniel Arthur Smith
Editor: Jessica West
Publication Date: March 29, 2018
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
In the spirit of basketball’s March Madness, here is a collection of sports-themed stories in a science-fiction setting and making them real in my imagination. They paint such a vivid portrait, I can see it so clearly in my mind and invest myself in its enthralling tales. Here are the sports you are looking for, starting with:
Will Swardstrom’s “A Brief Survey of Intergalactic Sports and Other Competitive Events” – Told in the form of a news article, this story fulfills its title with thoughtful explorations of humans & aliens, their sports and the meaningfulness behind each of them. From the Apeck, who sacrifice themselves when they win, to the Typpians, whose game ball has an unusual and unexpected origin, to Warexegon, where participants must cross the debris-filled rings orbiting a planet… on foot!
All this and more is a feast for the imagination that engaged my interest, stirred my heart with their compelling histories, and made me wish this was a longer story. Bonus points for connections to several of the author’s other short stories as well.
Nathan M. Beauchamp’s “Murder Bowl XIII” – Endrick goes to the titular game, a bloodsport filled with murder in all sorts of grim ways. Armed with a plan to change things forever, why is he there and what is he going to do?
Endrick’s motivations and plan kept me riveted to the page, even as everything he saw during this sporting event disgusted me with the barbaric levels of humanity on display here. As a result, this tale immersed me so deeply, I felt like I was right there. It found new and ingenious ways to demonstrate how devolved society had become, as well as so repugnant, while also causing me to wonder how much worse this sport could get.
Bob Williams’ “Echo Dome” – Diamond is showing Ranger around his sector for a good time, as part of making a business deal. But when Diamond introduces him to the Echo Dome, a ferocious sport like no other, what will happen?
The mystery of this sport is compelling and the more I read, the more I was entranced with the innovation and ingenuity behind it. It’s a sport that has painful and psychological ramifications when a powerful attack succeeds. The results made me wince in pain but not in the way you would think. This intriguing concept suspensefully told its tale that enveloped me in its bold storytelling.
S. Elliot Brandis’ “Peach of a Delivery, That!” – Ned is playing a game of cricket and is having the most unusual and most lucky game of his life. As the tale unspools, it’s clear something strange is going on, but what is it?
That crucial question is what lies at the heart of this tale. It’s imbued with cultural resonance, local slang, and good-natured ribbing between players that made me smile at the fun of it all. It’s also told with a sparkle and a sense of something magical happening here, culminating in a surprising ending.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “Veloxity” – A mob fixer threatens Pascal’s sister if he doesn’t do what he is told. Since Pascal is a racer, he must get surgical enhancements to get an edge while riding the most dangerous racetrack in the universe and win the big money.
This is an adrenaline-fueled rush where I could feel the speed through the obstacle-laden track and how Pascal managed to zoom through it with split-second timing. The hairs on my arms stood up as I raced with Pascal through the Death Spiral, the Tunnel of Light, the Cyclone, and more. This story takes place in the author’s rapidly expanding Spectral Shift (Spectral Worlds Book 1) universe, a meld of cyberpunk and science into a dystopian future that I continue to enjoy.
Some of these sports were so invigorating and fleshed out so well, I wished they were real and could witness them myself. Others were so brutal and vicious, I glad that they remain only in the realm of my imagination. All five of them made me want to know more and presented captivating reasons to keep reading to see what would happen next. Sports have never been this crazy or this much fun to read before!
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories written by or published by Daniel Arthur Smith include “Clones: The Anthology“, “Klarissa Dreams Redux“, “Spectral Shift“, “Attack of the Kung Fu Mummies“, “Gazer: A Spectral Worlds Story“, “Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, Omnibus 9 & Omnibus 10.”