The greatest gift to us is caring and sharing, no matter who we are.
What would the world be like without someone to care for or to care with? Would love survive if we don't care? From the world of twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors comes a world that can be funny, heartwarming, strange, or sad. Or not what we expect.
How can a henchman keep up with a mischievous retired supervillain? Can a dog help a hockey player score again? Will an odd couple with a zany sense of adventure and diminished capabilities survive an earthquake? Where does a stray cat go to find love every night? What secret does a pious monk have with a cargo of sleeping human? Will terrorism in space take out a young apprentice and a blind welder? What does an oracle tell a lover about her final days? Can a "heart of gold" prevent a soldier from crossing the enemy line with the governor's children? These, and many more.
Recommended by Publishers Weekly, Lightspeed, and Tangent
2018 (Canadian SF&F) Aurora Award Winner (anthology/Best Related Work)
2018 Alberta Book Publishing Award Finalist (Speculative Fiction Book of the Year)
One story selected for Best of British Science Fiction 2017 (ed. by Donna Scott)
One story selected for Best Indie Speculative Fiction, Vol. 1 (Bards & Sages Publishing)
Five stories on Tangent Online Recommended Reading List 2017
2018 (Canadian SF&F) Aurora Award Short Fiction Winner
One story--2018 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic Short Fiction Winner
Three stories nominated -- 2018 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic Short Fiction Finalist
Anthologies in this series (Strangers Among Us, The Sum of Us, Where the Stars Rise, Shades Within Us) have been recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Locus, Foreword Reviews, and Quill & Quire.
About the authors
Sandra Kasturi is a Red Deer Press author.
Kate Story is a writer and theatre artist who was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Uncanny occurrences were not unheard-of growing up in the house on the Southside Road built by Kate's great-great grandfather. Having fled to the mainland at sixteen, Kate keeps coming home to see family, do the occasional performance work, and get the occasional fit of the shudders. Kate lives in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, Ontario, where the shudders are fuel for the writing and performance work.
Previous novels include Blasted, Wrecked Upon This Shore, This Insubstantial Pageant, and the YA fantasy duology Antilia.
Kate's fiction has won the Sunburst Award's honourable mention, been a CBC Literary Award finalist, and has appeared in World Fantasy and Aurora Award-winning collections. Kate is also a recipient of the Ontario Arts Foundation's K.M. Hunter Artist Award for work as a theatre writer, performer, and creator.
Karina Sumner-Smith is a Canadian author of fantasy, science fiction, and young adult. Her short fiction has appeared in The Living Dead 2, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three, and Children ofMagic, among others. Among being reprinted in a number of anthologies, her short stories have also been nominated for the Nebula Award and have been translated into Czech and Spanish. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto. The Paper Gods series, which includes Ink, Rain, and Storm, was inspired by her time living in Osaka and traveling throughout Japan. She is an avid video gamer and cosplayer. Visit her on the web at www.amandasunbooks.com and on twitter @Amanda_Sun.
Hayden Trenholm is a native of Nova Scotia who has lived in various areas of Canada. He is best known in Alberta for his playwriting. A Circle of Birds is his first published novel.
Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of fantasy, science fiction, and non-fiction for all ages. He won Canada’s top science fiction award, the Aurora Award, for Best Long-Form Work in English in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW Books); the sequel, Terra Insegura, was shortlisted for the same award. Other science fiction books from DAW include Lost in Translation, The Cityborn, and the upcoming Worldshaper (September 2018), which will launch a new series. He’s also the author of the fantasy novels Magebane (written as Lee Arthur Chane) and the Masks of Aygrima trilogy (written as E.C. Blake). Other titles include the five-book Shards of Excalibur series for Regina’s Coteau Books, and the young adult fantasy Spirit Singer, which won the Regina Book Award at the 2002 Saskatchewan Book Awards. Ed began his career as a reporter, photographer, columnist, cartoonist, and eventually editor for the Weyburn Review, then spent five years as communications officer for the then fledgling Saskatchewan Science Centre. He’s been a fulltime freelance writer (and actor and singer) for twenty-five years. His nonfiction runs the gamut from science books and biographies to local history. He lives in Regina with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., their teenaged daughter, Alice, and their black Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.
Dominik Parisien is a writer, editor, and poet and the author of the chapbook We, Old Young Ones. He lives in Toronto.
- Short-listed, Alberta Book Publishing Award
- Winner, (Canadian SF&F) Prix Aurora Award
Excerpt: The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound (edited by Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law; by (author) Juliet Marillier, Brenda Cooper, Colleen Anderson, Charlotte Ashley, Ian Creasey, A.M. Dellamonica, Bev Geddes, Claire Humphrey, Sandra Kasturi, Tyler Keevil, Matt Moore, Heather Osborne, Nisi Shawl, Alex Shvartsman, Kate Story, Karina Sumner-Smith, Amanda Sun, Hayden Trenholm, James Van Pelt, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Edward Willett, Christie Yant & Caroline M. Yoachim; introduction by Dominik Parisien)
The Dunschemin Retirement Home for Repentant Supervillains by Ian Creasey
Here we go again. Mornings in the Home always began the same way. No matter what time Stafford reached Anarcho’s room, Anarcho was invariably awake, waiting for Stafford to open the chintz curtains. But he never reprimanded Stafford for being late or wasting time. In the old days, Anarcho had been as impatient as all supervillains, ever eager to pursue some cunning scheme. Now there was no rushing and shouting and clanking; no messy experiments left bubbling overnight; no lairs to build or dungeons to dust.
Today’s tasks were more homely. Stafford pulled back the duvet to reveal Anarcho’s shrunken frame, tinged green from over-exposure to tachyons. First came the bathroom routine: toilet, sponge wipe, shave, and so forth. Then the mechanical maintenance: eye lube, claw sharpen and polish, exobrain defrag and reboot. These prosthetics were all obsolete. Anarcho was the Home’s oldest resident, his life convoluted by time travel.
“Attention all residents,” the intercom blared. “Please report for roll call in the lounge. This is not a drill; the perimeter alarm has sounded. Urgent roll call!”
“Sounds like mischief,” Stafford said. “I presume it’s not yours.”
He didn’t expect an answer. For form’s sake, he checked the control panel on Anarcho’s wheelchair but saw nothing. It had been years since Anarcho’s last caper.
Stafford couldn’t decide whether he missed the old days. Back then, life had felt too frenetic, with a never-ending list of chores; every new plot always needed its own elaborate control room, destruct mechanism, and escape tunnel. Yet he’d enjoyed the craftsmanship of building vast laboratories and sinister machines. Now the chores were mundane: the new enemy was incontinence. Had all those intrigues been for naught?
“Let’s get you down there,” he said.
He settled Anarcho into the motorized wheelchair and draped a tartan blanket over his knees. The blanket lacked even the most basic hidden enhancements: no blast-proof shielding, no explosive tassels, not even a hypnotic fractal pattern on the reverse. It was merely 100% wool, soft and warm.
The Home bustled with activity as the residents and their carers converged on the lounge. Stafford ducked aside as Madame Mayhem and Miss Rule zoomed past on their hoverchairs, racing each other along the corridors. Proceeding more sedately, Stafford and Anarcho were the last to arrive.
“Hurry up!” roared Betty Beast. “I’m missing breakfast for this.”
“Oh, I’ll get us some breakfast,” said Doctor Havoc. With a well-practiced dramatic gesture, he conjured puffs of blue smoke from his hand. The clouds of nanites drifted through the kitchen doorway, returning with toast and mushrooms. One blue globule collided with a hoverchair and tried to drag it back, to Madame Mayhem’s furious protests. She retaliated by stealing slices of toast before the smoke took them to Doctor Havoc. In the tussle, stray mushrooms fell to the floor, where three of Legion’s tiny scuttling avatars scooped them up.
“Hush!” cried Matron. “Stop playing with your food.”
A tall, spindly woman dressed in an old-style black-and-white nurse’s uniform, Matron seemed to glare at everyone simultaneously. “Please answer the roll call, and I’d better not hear any cackling. Phipps will physically check that everyone’s here. No decoy holograms!”
Stafford said, “What do you reckon, Anarcho—is it an escape or a kidnap?” Some supervillains couldn’t bear retirement and returned to the metropolis like grizzled rock stars craving one last comeback.
Matron called out, “Narinder Atwal.” “Here,” said Doctor Havoc. “And hungry!”
Phipps, Matron’s diminutive assistant, touched Doctor Havoc’s shoulder to verify his existence. Coincidentally—or not—a blue puff of smoke swirled into Phipps’ face and made him sneeze.
“Sophie Béranger.” Matron only ever used civilian names; she insisted that every retired supervillain must abandon their alias along with their antics. While no-one openly defied her, many surreptitiously clung onto their monikers and misbehaviour.
“Here,” replied Madame Mayhem, her fingers idly stroking a memorial necklace of fangs from Fidosaurus, her deceased pet dinosaur.
The roll call continued until it reached, “Russell Fletcher.” Stafford waited a few seconds, then pinged Anarcho’s exobrain.
“I’m here, wherever this is,” Anarcho said, his voice low and hoarse. “It ain’t heaven, that’s for sure,” said Doctor Havoc.
“Come sit on my hoverchair, and I’ll show you heaven,” Madame Mayhem purred.
The supervillains dissolved into giggles until Matron raised her voice to resume the roll call, which ended with no absentees—or none detected.
“That’s reassuring,” said Matron, addressing the group. “But what set off the alarm? I’ve checked the video, and most of the outside cameras are obscured. It’s remarkable how fast the ivy grows in our grounds. Quite remarkable indeed.” She stared at the motley reprobates. “If anyone knows anything, please enlighten us.”
“I know why galaxies collide,” said AlphaMega, his bass voice augmented with infrasonic rumble.
“Yeah, your huge ego turned into a black hole and sucked them in,” retorted Madame Mayhem.
“If you can’t be helpful, be quiet,” Matron said. “I’ve warned the authorities about the perimeter breach. If anything happens outside and it’s traced back here, there’ll be consequences.”
Excerpted from The Sum of Us, copyright © 2017
The Gatekeeper by Juliet Marillier
He stalks up the long hall, each step a small poem of feline grace. An early morning hush lies over Autumn Gardens. Outside, the first birds are calling. Inside, there’s a distant rattle of crockery. He passes the doors, many doors, each slightly ajar. The residents lie still under their quilts, wrapped in memories that will vanish when they wake.
Ah! Feet in slippers, here by the wall. A woman makes a shuffling progress, clutching the rail. He slips away, shadow-quick. Her ending will come soon enough; it is not for him to trip those faltering feet. His task is not to deliver death. Only to witness. Only to guide.
Good smells ahead. The kitchen is at the far end of this hall—he is not allowed to enter. But he eats well. His man feeds him in their safe place, every morning after they wake, every night before they sleep.
There was a time before: starving, snatching, devouring whatever scrap might come his way. Beetles, worms, smears of stuff in sharp discarded cans. It was a time of fear, of fighting, of running, always running. A big tom tore his ear. A hurled stone bruised him. But he got away. Over and over he got away.
A baying dog chased him. He caught his foot in a fence, hauled himself free, ripped flesh from his leg. There was blood. He hid under bushes. Licked and licked, but could not make it better.
A man came with cheese and meat and a trap, and he was caught. He fought the box that shut him in. He bit the hands that touched him; terror made him strong. But they were gentle hands, lifting him out, tending to his wound. He knew, for the first time, the feeling of a full belly.
That was then. This is now. The man—his man—brought him here, made him his own safe place. A warm bed, sweet water, good food. He has a friend now, and a home. He has a solemn calling.
Autumn Gardens Eldercare Staff Meeting: March 2, 2010
1. Action items from last meeting
2. April visit by Minister for Seniors: planning
3. Staffing issues
4. Therapy cat for Dementia Ward – protocols
5. Any other business
The morning rounds bring him to the sunny room where the residents of Ward D now sit in their chairs. Some stare at the television, a flickering parade of images, a buzz of sounds. Some nod in half-sleep. It is nearly time for the wheeled trolley to bring tea and biscuits. He knows who will feed him crumbs and who will look through him, not seeing.
“There you are, Piff.” Kind hands, these, reaching down to stroke him gently behind the ears. The touch contents him. He has many names at Autumn Gardens: Stripey, Honey, Thistle, and Orlando. To his man, he is Hamza. Those names are unimportant. He is Cat, servant of Bast.
Here is the old woman who smells of flowers. He remembers a garden where he hid once, a place all tangled foliage and deep hollows; the same smell was there. He stations himself by the woman’s feet, waiting. The trolley creaks in; there’s a tinkle of crockery up above.
“I’m going home this afternoon,” the flower woman says. “Kalgoorlie. My son’s coming to pick me up.”
“That’s nice, dear.” The trolley moves on.
A generous supply of crumbs descends. They are the kind he likes best. Rattle of cups on saucers; muted voices. More crumbs here and there. He wanders, grazing.
The trolley creaks out again. He settles, comfortably full, to drowse the morning away on a sunny window seat. His senses tell him there will be no further work until night falls and it is time to warm his man’s feet. But soon, very soon, the call will come.
Excerpted from The Sum of Us, copyright © 2017
“A strong collection . . . make it worth reading.” –Publishers Weekly
“. . . definitely consider buying a copy, if not for yourself, then for someone who is serving as a caretaker. At the very least, it should make us all appreciate caretakers for all they do.” –Lightspeed Magazine
“Thought provoking page-turners.” –Tangent
Other titles by Susan Forest
Other titles by Lucas K. Law
Other titles by Colleen Anderson
Other titles by A.M. Dellamonica
Other titles by Bev Geddes
Other titles by Sandra Kasturi
Other titles by Tyler Keevil
Other titles by Matt Moore
Other titles by Heather Osborne
Other titles by Alex Shvartsman
Other titles by Kate Story
Other titles by Karina Sumner-Smith
Other titles by Amanda Sun
Seasons Between Us
Tales of Identities and Memories
Seasons Between Us (Large Print)
Tales of Identities and Memories
Shades Within Us
Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders
Where the Stars Rise
Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy
Heir to the Sky
Strangers Among Us
Tales of Underdogs and Outcasts
Other titles by Hayden Trenholm
Other titles by Liz Westbrook-Trenholm
Other titles by Edward Willett
Shapers of Worlds
From the Street to the Stars
Master of the World
One Lucky Devil
The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow
Paths to the Stars
Twenty-Two Fantastical Tales of Imagination
I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust
Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan
An Illustrated History
Strangers Among Us
Tales of Underdogs and Outcasts