Great Review for FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE

Liberty Island magazine just ran a very thorough review on the newly released FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE, published in trade paperback and all eBook formats from WordFire Press.  Each volume of the FIVE BY FIVE series contains five military SF novellas by five military SF writers.  Volume 3 has all-new pieces by Michael A. Stackpole, Sarah A. Hoyt, Doug Dandridge, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, and Kevin J. Anderson

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The Liberty Island reviewer had this to say:

This anthology of five military sci-fi novellas gives a reader an excellent sense of the variety of authors and styles currently available to both fans of the genre and those still waiting to discover it for themselves. The authors are so different, however, that it is nearly impossible to review this publication as a whole; therefore, I will provide a short review of each entry and assign star ratings accordingly.

Remains of the Dead (A Star Tigers Story) by Michael A. Stackpole
The story grabbed me from the start with it unusual and richly imagined world populated by fully developed characters. The idea of humans, living as second class citizens in a world not of their own, but still retaining the best of the human qualities and wishing to prove their worth, both as individuals and as a race, is incredibly appealing and gets fair and thoughtful treatment. The action, once it gets going, is exciting and full of surprises, and in the end we are left wanting to spend more time in the world and read more about what follows the events of the story. 4 Stars

And Not to Yield by Sarah A. Hoyt
This novella takes place in Hoyt’s Darkship/Earth Revolution universe and is a ten-years-later sequel to A Few Good Men. As a fan of the original, I approached the sequel with a mix of excitement and trepidation, both eager to catch up with the characters I love and fearful that the short-form story would not live up to the original. I did find myself not only completely satisfied, but with a newfound respect for the author for her ability to both stay true to the characters and acknowledge the passage of time. Other than that, the story is very typical Hoyt: emotionally charged, with tightly written action scenes, occasional philosophical side trips and a dry sense of humor. 5 Stars

Goliath by Doug Dandridge
The most traditional military sci-fi story in the anthology, Goliath starts boldly with several pages of infodump before moving on to action, an equivalent of having Star Wars-like opening credits roll on and on for minutes on end. In the final analysis, though, it might have paid off because the story proper jumps right into an alien encounter and the tension does not let up until the final scene. This particular story has the highest action-to-character-development ratio in the anthology and so would probably appeal to a different kind of reader than the rest. 4 Stars

Teach Your Children Well (An Unincorporated War story) by Eytan and Dani Kollin
This was, in all honesty, the story I enjoyed the least, not because it was necessarily badly written but because in my opinion it did not lend itself well to short form storytelling. There is at once too much and not enough information for the reader about the world, and switches between backstory and present time make it harder to get attached to the characters and follow the many plot twists. The idea of the society with no/minimal self-ownership is intriguing, but it gets pushed aside to explore more traditional themes with only limited success. The action scenes are well done and the story did hold my attention throughout, but it could have been much better. 3 Stars

Escape Hatch by Kevin J. Anderson
This one is a piece of pure, unadulterated delight, from the first attention-grabbing scene to the exceptionally satisfying resolution. The reader can see the “what” of big twist miles (or rather sea leagues) away, but it’s the “how” that matters. This is a perfect demonstration of my point that many writers should stop focusing so much on being original/clever and just write solid stories with memorable characters. And that, kids, is how it’s done. Even though the story is self-contained, it will likely send you scurrying to the bookstore/website of your choice for more of this author’s works. Just make sure you have enough money on your card because, oh man, is he prolific. 5 Stars

And so we got two 5 Stars, two 4 Stars and one 3 Stars, which my trusty calculator is averaging to 4.1. Thus, 4 Stars for the anthology as a whole. Strongly recommended.

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And don’t miss the first two FIVE BY FIVE anthologies

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