Review: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 3

Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 3 - Jason Anspach, Will Swardstrom, Daniel Arthur Smith, Ernie Howard Pyle

The third volume of TALES FROM THE CANYON OF THE DAMNED is full of fun and interesting stories, all laced with darkness, some more obvious than others.

Starting with "Natural Born Alien" by Will Swardstrom, we meet Bob, the most likely President-elect of the United States of America. Bob, however, doesn't fit the normal political mold since is a legal alien... he was born 40 years ago in the US after his mother's spaceship crashed, meaning that he fulfills the requirements outlined in the Constitution to be the next president. While many parts of this story are clearly a parody of a certain politician ("We will build a wall around the planet to keep them out. And get this— we’ll make the Zitorians pay for it.") and is written with the obvious goal of making the reader laugh, the darkness is intertwined with comedy as it brings home the truth of how the American people can be swayed by the unusual and unique, even if it could lead them toward death and despair.

Ernie Howard's "Float" is the second story in this collection, and I found this one fascinating... partly because I've wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank myself! I hope that I don't have the same experience that Ernie's character Josh has, though I lack the disdain and arrogance that ultimately leads him to his fate. I love how the author ends the story, giving the reader the chance to decide what actually happened... is it real life, or just a dream? Or both?

"Ledge Town" by Jason Anspach is a fun story, post-apocalyptic (or at least post tremor) with a Western vibe. There are hints of more to come, leaving me wanting to learn more about the old masters, the devil who speaks to Harris, and what else could possibly go wrong. After surviving an event that leaves the old world swallowed up, struggling through day by day, perhaps it's a mercy if you don't learn what's behind the door... after all, it seems that the end is coming for everyone, just perhaps sooner for some than others.

The collection ends with "The Tombs" by Daniel Arthur Smith, another short story in his continuing collection about the Blue Prince and the city within the mist. The stories are scattered throughout all of the TALES FROM THE CANYONS OF THE DAMNED books as well as THE TOWER, but can be read separately, each giving another piece in the puzzle. I love the opportunity to see different characters, from different walks of life, and how they are surviving... or how they don't. What I like best is that the author is sharing the story as someone experiencing it might, letting us learn from the stories, putting together the tales to figure out the whole or what is going on, just like the characters are trying to discover it themselves.

This third volume is the best so far, and I can't wait to see where Daniel Arthur Smith goes next, and what other brilliant authors he works with!