There are days that I think Samuel Peralta must be a wizard who uses his magical powers to somehow gather the most interesting authors with the most fascinating tales to tell. Every time I think that the last volume of The Future Chronicles can't be beaten, another one is released that is just as good or even a smidgen better.
The Cyborg Chronicles is the latest example of Samuel Peralta's wizardry. A collection of twelve short stories involved all things cyborg, I can honestly say that there was not a single story that I disliked in any way. The collection of course starts with a foreword from Peralta, where I think he casts his initial spell to get the reader to fall in love with the collection.
The first actual story in this collection is one that I actually read before in another collection. "The Regular" by Ken Liu was also included in the book Upgraded and one was of my favorite stories out of that collection, combining murder, mystery and technology in a fast-paced adventure to solve a crime. I was very happy to see it in this collection as well, and even though I had read it before I very happily re-read it, falling again into the adventure.
Paul Swardstrom's "Upgrade Complete" is a fascinating tale of a man turned cyborg, stuck in an arena surrounded by other cyborgs - aliens and humans alike. Pieces of JR-8's former life, and the reason for bring in the arena, are woven throughout the story, leading to an exciting battle and the hope for a new tomorrow.
"Drop Dead, Droid" by Artie Cabrera addicted me to Johnny Rangers, a pulp fiction detective in a futuristic world. I loved the gritty crime, the mobster-style bosses in cybernetic form, and the hope for more stories to come! Please... where can I read more Johnny Rangers??
Eric Tozzi's "Hide and Seek" is a thrilling game of hide and seek... where the humans are the ones hiding with a giant disadvantage. In the quest to weaponize animals using biotechnology, they seem to have forgotten the instincts bred into wild animals from birth. Will they survive?
"Avendui 5ive" by P.K. Tyler shows us a community of orphans, all raised and enhanced with bio-mechanics to serve a specific purpose. But what happens when one of the Teks is unable to fulfill that duty? Part love story, part dystopian nightmare, I loved this tale and really hope to read more set in this universe.
The next story is "Indigo" by Moira Katson, and this is a tale of a cyborg gone rogue. When a mind-wipe fails, will the conflict destroy the cyborg known as Indigo? I really enjoyed this story as well, told both by the cyborg in question an her human handler/supervisor.
Susan Kaye Quinn has long been a favorite author of mine, and "Augment" is not only another tale written to flesh out her Ascender Universe, but can also be read as a stand-alone. When the majority of humanity is no longer human, what happens to those left behind? Can they fight back without being destroyed? This tale gives us an inside look at that fight and the lengths that one girl is willing to go to save her people.
Patty Jansen's "His Name in Lights" is a brilliant tale set in a growing conflict between a technological company and one set more on war and domination. One reason that I loved this is because it shows the human side of cyborgs, and the love that can exist.
"Dyad" by David Bruns is a story that will make you read it over and over, looking for clues to an ending that took me by surprise. Yes, I actually paused in my reading to re-read this and soak it all in, then frantically combed the internet for more books in this series. When full cyborgs have been illegal for years, what happens when you find out that they could be hidden in your own neighborhood, looking just like another human?
Michael Patrick Hicks is a talented author who's work I recently became aware of, not afraid to look at the world around us today and mix that into his stories, showing us a future that could exist. "Preservation" takes us into the world of poaching, showing us the possible extinction of animals and the lives of the people who fight to save them.
A.K. Meek's "Charm Bracelet" takes us to a future where all wars are found on the moon to protect the humans on Earth... but where do the fighters come from? Once dead, a person can be brought back as a cyborg, enhanced with interchangeable weapons and frightening characteristics. But what is really going on in this war and what lengths will the government go to win?
The last story of the collection is Annie Bellet's "Ghosts in the Mist." As the protector of the creatures who live in the Mist, Jana has to face her own internal demons while caring for others. This is a fast-paced tale, full of wonders both technological and magical, and is the perfect ending to a wonderful collection.
Did I like this collection? Well, I was given an Advance Reader Copy, but had a purchased copy downloaded onto my kindle even before finishing the third story. This collection of short stories not only gives you a look into the talents of twelve separate authors, but each story is in itself complete, leaving you with a fulfilling experience of looking into different worlds, and living through twelve different exhilarating experiences.