Friday, September 11, 2015

First Seas and Other Tales (Frank Schildiner, Pro Se Productions, 2014)

Anthologies are a funny thing to try and review.  Do you try to cover each story individually? Or focus on the united whole? Can you pick and choose stories to focus on? It's a little easier when the stories are all by the same author, as is the case with today's book, Frank Schildiner's First Seas and Other Tales.  I'm going to count this as a Pulpfest book, as I met and spoke with Frank I little bit there (not as much as I did Win Scott Eckert or Christopher Paul Carey), and friended him on Facebook, where I saw him promoting this book.  Picked it up on an impulse, and read through it pretty quickly.

First Seas is not a book that can be put easily in any genre, unless you want to count the short story as a genre in and of itself.  This book contains horror, superheroes, gangsters, Roman legionnaires, bikers, angels, demons, and above all -- and if there's a through-line through the book, it's this -- the triumph of Good over Evil - not by dint of being Good in and of itself, but through discipline and hard work.  I imagine this might be some of Frank's background in martial arts shining through in his writing.

With the variety of stories on display here, there's definitely something for everyone's tastes, and I think a lot of these stories will appeal across the board.  My personal favorites from the collection are "Hammer of Charun" and "Big Ol' Scorpion," but frankly, they're all good.

The biggest thing I got out of this collection is how much each story felt like the first chapter of a longer tale - and how much I want to read those longer tales! Even the stories that didn't end on a direct cliffhanger, left me desperate to know what happened next to the characters.  Every story just felt so rich, the world painted in words so vibrant that it just comes to life in the mind's eye in a way that so much fiction doesn't.

Suffice to say, I'm eagerly hoping some of these get expanded in the future into full novels, or at least novellas.  And I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of Frank's work! You can pick up First Seas and Other Tales from Amazon here, or from CreateSpace here.

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