For this next reading I ended up with a collection of short stories by Timothy Zahn. I usually prefer novels, but I had been wanting to read something else by this author and the only other options available to me were either beginning a new series, which I’m not currently in the mood for, or more Star Wars EU, which I am pretty done with for the time being.
A little more than half of the 15 short stories in this book were originally written in the 1980s for Analog and Amazing Stories magazines, with the rest having been written in the last ten years or so. That said, there were a couple you could say were a bit dated: one dealt with the aftermath of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and another with a phone book (yeah, I feel old now). Overall, the stories were quite enjoyable and mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres; aliens, spaceships, trolls, wizards, and the supernatural were all well represented within these pages. The tone of each story ranged from silly to serious, with some of the stories looking at social issues like abortion and for-profit prisons. Although there were some stories I liked better than others, every one had interesting characters and satisfying developed settings. My favorites were probably Cascade Point (1983), in which a space transport must find a way to escape an alternate dimension, Troll Bridge (2009), about a troll working as a toll booth operator on the Tappan Zee Bridge, Protocol (2002), set on a world inhabited by human colonists and lumbering alien giants who kill without hesitation when their elaborate meeting protocols are not followed, and Pawn’s Gambit (1982), a story of alien abduction and high stakes tabletop gaming.
I really enjoyed this reading, perhaps even more so than I might have expected going into it. I am definitely keeping Timothy Zahn on my reading list and might even check out some more short stories as well.