QUANTUM ZOO – edited by D J GELNER AND J M NEY-GRIMM
EBook, 252 pages, Orion’s Comet
Quantum Zoo is a collection of fantasy and SF short stories themed around the concept of “zoos”. And while at first that might seem like rather a narrow concept, the authors here have taken the theme and run with it from 19th Century London to the depths of outer space.
The collection starts of very strongly with Bridget McKenna’s “A King In Exile”, a rather sweet Victoriana-meets-Jurrassic-Park story about an explorer’s daughter gifted with a rather special egg. Other highlights in a very strong collection include “Ignoble Deeds” by A C Smyth, set in a zoo for ghosts, which has a killer twist which makes perfect sense in context, and the space opera “Skipdrive” by Morgan Johnson, which draws on Lovecraftian mythos and the creatures that lurk in the dark between the stars. It features a truly unforgettable heroine, and is by turns both humourous and chilling.
If I had to pick a favourite I’d be hard-pressed to choose between R S McCoy’s “Demon Rising” (Katherine takes the monster under her bed on a night-time visit to the zoo, with far-reaching consequences) and “Bestiarum” by Sarah Stegall. This is another space opera, this time set on a generation starship where Thimet, the keeper responsible for keeping the flame of knowledge alive, must find a successor and protect a very special secret. I think “Bestiarum” edges it. by a twitching nose and a trembling whisker.
This is a great collection, and I hadn’t previously read any of the writers featured in it, so I will be looking out for them in future!