Denise Little, editor,
Vengeance Fantastic
(DAW, 2002)

Vengeance Fantastic is an all-new anthology by many masters of speculative fiction, with exclusive stories appearing only in this collection.

The settings vary widely, presenting familiar scenes from literature in surprising new ways. In the first story, by well-known author Micky Zucker Reichert, one woman must choose between her faith and revenge for her people in a Viking attack. The Greek gods settle their disputes in the surprisingly deep and introspective tale, "A Quiet Justice" by Michelle West. Adam and Eve enlist the aid of devils to perform a hit on God in Laura Resnick's story, and create a surprising side effect.

Venturing into more modern classics, a psychic investigator saves members of an all-girls school in the Sherlock Holmes-style story, "The Astral Outrage" by P.N. Elrod. In "MarySue at Forty," the clichˇd child genius from Star Trek fandom makes her own appearance.

Many traditional fantasy tales also appear. Deb Stover's "Punkinella" has a fairy godmother offering to turn back time to when 40-year-old Sharon was happy. In "The Wedding Present," by fantasy author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, a bride receives a magical gift, but what is the price for using it? The heroine of Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "Knotwork" spins magic to even the score with her husband, revealing her unearthly nature. "Boon Companion" is a cat story by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, where Sassafras searches for a human in need of her protection. "Smoker" tells a story with surprising warmth as a young man revenges himself on a murderer who's far more than human. In yet another fantasy tale, this one by Jody Lynn Nye, the bard Derren must pay the price to recover his stolen song in a world where magic and revenge must perfectly balance.

"Nothing Says 'I Love You' Like the Taste of Cold Steel" by Von Jocks is a truly brilliant story, combining marvelous characters with hysterical humor and honest romance. In that tale, a pair of pirates must dodge horrendous relatives long enough to name their son heir to the family fortune. Other humorous, or at least cautiously ironic stories fill the pages of Vengeance Fantastic. "Listen to the Cat" reminds readers of the consequences of ignoring your cat's romantic advice. "Exits and Entrances" by Tim Waggoner deals with critics, and the best possible revenge for a destroyed life.

Not all of these stories contain blood and violence, despite the anthology theme. Some delve into the value of vengeance and its effect on the perpetrator. Others humorously decide on the ultimate example of poetic justice, fitting the revenge to the crime. Unlike many anthologies, all of the writers are well-known authors, often with many novels completed. The stories in Vengeance Fantastic are polished and masterful, seething with emotion and the desire for revenge.

- Rambles
written by Valerie Frankel
published 7 December 2002

Buy it from