Orbital Hearts, edited by Thaddeus Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I opened this. A friend sent me the ARC and asked that I read it, review it, and let him know my thoughts. I was mostly excited because it’s the first ARC I’ve ever gotten. It was described to me as an “anti-Valentines day anthology,” but that didn’t tell me much. I wasn’t sure whether I was about to read a series of stories about how much Valentines Day sucks or what.
Anyway, it has nothing to do with Valentines Day, other than apparently being released in February and being about love. Of course, it’s about love in the same vein that Bangs and Whimpers: Stories About the End of the World is about the apocalyptic scenarios. In other words, it’s unexpected, marvelous, and brilliant. The stories all feature a love that cannot, for whatever reason, be. Some of them feature characters or couples from classic mythology, some of them look to parallel universes, magic, or sci-fi futuristic differences to explain the divide between the doomed lovers.
But every story is thought-provoking, beautiful, and realistic in a larger-truth sort of way. The writing style varied from author to author. All of the authors were extremely talented, able to highlight the unique settings and characters in the brief word counts allotted to anthologies. There were definitely some authors I enjoyed more than others, and I will say that I was somewhat disappointed in the style of the short featuring the Norns/ Fates — it was such a great concept, but the writing style itself was somewhat off-putting. That’s the only complaint I have, though — out of 10 stories, I disliked only the writing style of 1, although I thought the concept and characterization was brilliant.
Overall, this is a treasure of an anthology, featuring extremely talented authors who portray love and relationships with a sort of graceful dark humor and a subversively melancholic beauty. I found the collection disturbing, entertaining, impressive, and ultimately thought-provoking, and I highly recommend it.