Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved) [Final rating for both halves.]
This review site summed up the overall book very well, and said the same things I had about it -- every point:
Some anthologies are “Best Of” and some have themes. I mistakenly thought an anthology called Chronology would have a time-based theme, but I was wrong. There is no theme to this collection...
Even the genres are a hodgepodge, which was a complete surprise. This collection contains high fantasy, urban fantasy, urban legend, steampunk, future steampunk, space fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural stories. And, one story that has no science fiction or fantasy elements in it’s telling of a 1960’s Northern view on a segregated South [“Signs Unseen”]. The monster fiction did employ an impressive array of supernatural creatures: zombies, mummies, witches, fairies, mermaids, shamen, a dragon, a minotaur, a werewolf, a volcano spirit, an Appalachian spirit and a famous monster hunter. Without a theme or common thread, this anthology is not greater than the sum of its part–it is mainly a junk drawer that includes some great and not-so-great writing.
The main selling point for the collection is its inclusion of a story by Piers Anthony. He was the only author I’d heard of in this collection. The good news is that every other author turned in a better story than Anthony...
While that reviewer and I disagreed on most of the individual stories, we're totally in sync on the overall review of the book. While not great, while I disliked more stories than I liked, the good stories were really good, and this book was worth reading.
Part two of this review. Part one here.
14) Yours Until the Ink Dries, by Jordan Elizabeth
Wow. Another type of story I'd usually never read (urban fantasy/fae), but I loved this story to death. Told first person from the POV of a school aged girl bullied by all her classmates, we're left questioning exactly what's happening in the story until the final paragraph, and has a wonderfully horrible open ending. :D
15) The Room Below, by Wilbert Stanton
The first horror story of this book that actually worked... until the end. A girl tries to kill herself and ends up in a mental hospital. The author should have stuck with that, he was able to write a very creepy, realistic story about it. Then he added a supernatural angle, which took away from the story to me. Then the story ended up being [Spoiler about the end of the story] all a dream (sort of, same idea) and that ruined my enjoyment of it.
16) The Comeback, by Tara Tyler
A zombie story. Yay. I was enjoying it before we got to the zombie part (kid was dying in three months due to cancer), but the whole zombie subplot didn't work for me. I reached nearly the end of this one before giving up, there were just too many stupid things. (Like the main bad guy, who was intending to turn the whole world into zombies by feeding them some potion, was fooled because the main character just spit out the potion instead of swallowing it. In front of her! Plus the bad guy's eyes glowed red, which also annoyed me.)
17) The Bull, by J.R. Rain
If this hadn't been so short, I would have stopped reading it, but it was over before I knew it. Rodeo clown and bull get hit by lightning at the same time, clown ends up with superpowers. This was sort of like a pre-story, the story ended with him becoming the superhero (The Bull). Interesting idea, but the writing was really flat and boring, and it ended before anything happened.
18) After-Party, by Mark W. Woodring
Another I should have stopped, but I hadn't been sure if it wasn't working for me because of the story or because I was mentally distracted, so I stuck with it. The first and only story in the book about time traveling, which really should have been the book's theme. Time gets stuck in a loop, most people are killed by it. I wish I hadn't been distracted (or the story had been better, whichever the correct one is), because I like how the story played with time, shifting back and forth between timelines.
19) The Unattended Life, by J.E. Anckorn
Interesting! Horror-ish, but with a moral. About how a man who runs a 'clean up after accidental deaths' service learns to live again.
20) The Colorado King, by Nathan L. Yocum
TL;DR, except I read it. Longest story in the book, and clearly set in the world the author had previously written about -- felt like I had come into the story in the middle of it. Set after the end of the world, a man and his daughter try to survive. Wasn't awful, but wasn't good.
21) Gookie Visits Her Moma, by G. Miki Hayden
Holy cow, this story! Loved the writing of it. The main character was half-alien, in a story set in a world full of aliens and other races, and the author played with the language in a way that made it feel so alien, yet still understandable. It felt very Firefly-ish. So much fun! Samples:
He stuck his tonguer out at her, making her want to swipe him one across the back of the zawickes. She had little patience for babelings or youthlets less mature than she, but she restrained herself. The kid was worth a fifteen-cycle honorarium, and her haulings both to Nonser and back.
"Settle down, Swnbock," she grunted, "and you'll live to see Mometi and Popa again."
"I don't want to view them, ever after," the youthster snarled in gross rejection. "I condemnate each of them. They're both so crudly."
Plus just generally amusing lines:
For those two reasons, and those reasons solely, plus a few others...
22) Above the Clouds, by Richard Roberts
My favorite story in the book. It was unclear what was happening at first (and I loved it). It started with what sounded like a boy was talking to his father. Turned out... [plot and spoilers back here.]Turns out it wasn't a boy, it was an airship. A sort of steampunk-ish story, the airships had child-like AIs in them and called their pilots mother or father. Red Baron, the main character airship, had a difficult relationship with his father. Most pilots like and appreciate their ships, perhaps even love, but Red's father was only hard on him and never spoke a word of praise.
As the story continued, Red spoke with someone named Rosie over their comm system. He was afraid to tell her that he was a ship and not a person, but it turned out she was a ship, too. Worse than that, they were on opposite sides of a coming battle...
This story was too short. I loved the worldbuilding, I loved the voices, I loved everything about it. I wish it had been a whole book on its own.
23) Innocent Deception, by Matthew S. Cox
Abandoned. Very long, got about halfway through it. Boring tale of a kidnapping.
24) Limited Liability, by Matthew Graybosch
Abandoned. Set in the author's preexisting book series, it seemed a A Christmas Carol-ish -- a man was visited by a "ghost of the future" to stop him from doing bad things.
Stories liked in this half: 5
Stories disliked in this half: 6
Total stories liked in whole book: 10
Total stories disliked in whole book: 14
A better ratio than I had expected.