Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stranded Anthology - Reviewed by Trix


Stranded contains thirteen stories from a range of sub-genres. We have dystopian futures, historicals, contemporary romances, sci-fi and paranormal. We have angels, time travelers, and Vikings. We have it all! Our contributing authors in order of appearance: Alina Popescu, Michael P. Thomas, Kim Fielding, Asta Idonea, Rob Colton, Nephylim, Lily G. Blunt, Eric Gober, Nikka Michaels, Louise Lyons, kirifox, Sarah Hayes, & jn olsen.

- (of a boat, sailor, or sea creature) left aground on a shore.
"a stranded whale"
- left without the means to move from somewhere.
"he offers a lift to a stranded commuter"


The boys in this collection of short stories have most definitely been left STRANDED!

They’ve been shipwrecked and abandoned.

Marooned and cast away.

And left helpless and high and dry.

But you should never underestimate the tenacity of the human heart…

Craving Stains by Alina Popescu
Say Cheese by Michael P. Thomas
Standby by Kim Fielding
The Raider by Asta Idonea
The Buckle by Rob Colton
Ari by Nephylim
Opposites Attract by Lily G. Blunt
Out of Order by Eric Gober
Dating for Deafies by Nikka Michaels
One Snowy Night by Louise Lyons
The Climb by kirifox
Did You Leave Any For Me by Sarah Hayes
Sweetness and Strength by J.N. Olsen

Trix’s Review:

4 stars

I enjoyed the creative license that the authors took with the "stranded" concept. While there are plenty of scenarios involving airline delays and the like, just as often characters are stranded between societal expectations or mental perceptions. Those who get annoyed with m/m's tendency to feature stereotypical heroes will appreciate this book as well: there are some trans* and intersex romantic leads, as well as differently abled ones. 

By far, the opening story was the least successful for me: Alina Popescu's "Craving Stains" is an uneasy blend of dystopian science fiction, family drama, and romantic comedy. The individual elements could work (and there are signs of intriguing world-building), but the short length means that they don't combine well here. (To complicate things, I'm still unsure if its ending is happy or sad, if the hero is alive, or which elements of the story may have been in his imagination only.) Luckily, STRANDED gets much more cohesive afterward. 

Kim Fielding's "Standby" manages to be playful yet emotionally affecting with its fallen angel trope (I admit, I shed a few happy tears at the end). Eric Gober's "Out of Order" uses the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake to depict a very specific time in the San Francisco Bay Area AIDS crisis. Since I have strong personal memories of the earthquake, I found the story (and its charming leads) very evocative. (The details were believable, though I can almost hear my Berkeley-grad mother yelling "No one calls the Campanile 'Berkeley's clock tower'!" now.) "Dating For Deafies" is a compelling portrait of a deaf man's search for romance, blending serious, sweet, and comic elements to great effect. Some people may find the jumps between hard-hitting issues and frothy romcoms to be too jarring, but there truly is something for everyone in STRANDED.

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