BEYOND THE STARS: A PLANET TOO FAR is a collection of eleven tales that immerse the reader in words currently out of our reach. Patrice Fitzgerald starts out the collection with a foreword that gives a great definition of what "Space Opera" really is, and how a term that was originally coined as an insult has actually become a much-loved genre, creating books and movies that expand our horizons and imaginations. Every story in this collection fits the criteria of a space opera, from wars on distant planets to intrigue on a space station... and so much more!
The first story in the collection if "Venatoris" by G.S. Jennsen starts out with a bang, as freelance scout Alexis Solovy struggles to protect her claim from someone known to steal from under the nose of other scouts and claim the prize as his own. I loved this story as it showed both the companionship and rivalry that exists in all words, and in the space beyond.
"Hope 91" by Nick Webb is a sweet story about a boy raised on a spaceship by himself, with robots his own companions. When he finally gets to speak with another human, a girl similarly raised on another ship heading to the same planet, can love overcome the obstacles of time and distance? The story grows with the main character, giving us insight into what it would be like to come of age in a future without Earth.
"Symbiosis" by Rory Hume was a great story about two outcasts who must rely on each other to survive. I loved the story of Mariana and Sym and hope to read more about them in the future. The author put a lot of thought into the events and the world he created, leaving me fascinated!
Samuel Peralta's "War Stories" gives us the darker side of war, showing that everyone holds secrets inside. Even when surrounded by people with similar strengths and experiences, sometimes you need to lie - even to yourself - to keep going. This story is so universal that it could have been written about soldiers on Earth now, or 2000 years in the future, and it would still be relevant.
"The Mergans" by Ann Christy is a story that starts with a thread of darkness but ends with hope, making me love this author even more. The title is somewhat misleading because the Mergans are mentioned in the story but are not the main characters, but it is the mention of the Mergans that allows the reader to place this story into a greater context with current politics and what the implications of what the future may bring.
"The Immortals: Anchorage" continues the Immortals series by David Adams. This story can be read as a standalone, or along with the other stories in the same universe. It continues the story of Nicholas Caddy and introduces us to The Myriad, creatures we learn more about in his book Symphony of War: The Polema Campaign. This is a fun story of companionship and learning to work as a team... but also icky because... well... bugs. Giant bugs.
Annie Bellet's "Pele's Bee-keeper" was a great story, giving us intrigue and betrayal as well as kindness. It also shows us that our initial expectations of people can actually be misconceptions, and that doing the right thing is sometimes the most difficult thing of all. The beekeeper herself was my favorite character of the story, dedicating a life once filled with death and bringing life. There are so many layers in this story that I had to re-read it, fascinated by the world the author created.
"Services Rendered" by Theresa Kay was my favorite story in this collection of wonderful stories... and it was difficult to pick a favorite! Li'hanna, the main character, just fascinates me, and I want to read more about her and her adventures with Jeren, Gretchen, and Arnold. The author has created the start of what could potentially be an epic series, a fight for freedom against the imperial fleet, and I'm really hoping that she continues with this tale.
Logan Thomas Snyder's "Spike in a Rail" is a short story in the same universe as THE LAZARUS PARTICLE, but can be read as a standalone. It introduces the reader to Xenecia, a huntrex aboard a space station in a universe where peace is tentative. When she finds herself in a situation where her actions - or inactions - could either save or destroy everything, Xenecia stretches herself to give everything to save the people surrounding her. But is it enough? The characters in this story are exciting, and the political maneuverings complex and interesting... I can't wait to read more!
"The First to Fall" by Sabrina Locke brings us the story of a child, the daughter of ambassadors who have the job of checking up on all of the different Seed Planets to determine if they are developing correctly, free of war and strife. But what happens when terrorists bring the war to her? I loved the twist with Paladin and Fallan, and how even child's play can be dangerous.
The collection ends with "The Ivory Tower" by Elle Casey. On a planet far away, Zelle is one of only four girls, raised in seclusion to become the mothers of the human race. But when Zelle is given the opportunity to escape, will the outside world be any better? This is a dystopian story that emphasizes choice and self-determination. I would love to see more written about Zelle and the other girls... can the world survive with only four women to repopulate everything?
I enjoyed every story in this collection... in fact, I loved most of them... and I'm excited to see more by these authors. I would certainly recommend this collection to fans of science fiction and space operas!