Author: Thomas Wm. Hamilton 

Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.

ISBN: 978-1-62212-028-4

Depending on how you count them (see below), this anthology contains twenty-seven short stories of science fiction and fantasy. There are only three fantasy stories, as I classify things, all three entertaining—the title story “The Mountain of Long Eyes,” “The Coming of the American Sun,” and “Red Blood” (the latter perhaps is more like a humorous horror story—I tend to classify anything with vampires or werewolves as fantasy, though). The remainder, all sci-fi, run the gamut from space opera and alternate history to tongue-in-cheek stories that poke fun at our cultural hang-ups.

This collection is stylistically varied. This is not uncommon with anthologies because the stories are often written over a long period. There is some hard science here, mostly astronomy—the author is an ex-astronomer and has an asteroid named after him. The best stories remind me of the acerbic and wry humor found in many of Phillip K. Dick’s and C. M. Kornbluth’s short stories, but Hamilton’s have settings that are usually more modern.

Rather than trying to summarize the twenty-seven tales from this anthology, let me signal a few favorites. I liked the title story. It combines magic and science—astronomy, in particular—and makes the first just as much an academic discipline as the second. It’s very clever. Magic is also used as a counter-terrorism tool. To write a bit of heresy here, J. K. Rowling missed this opportunity of combining the worlds of magic and science. If Hogwarts had taught both science and magic, the Rowling opus would have been more fun for me, though I suppose it would have turned off all the young Harry Potter fans.

Maybe The North Shore Military Academy is author Hamilton’s Hogwarts? It is featured in his novel titled Time for Patriots, which I imagine to be more alternate history. It also figures in the three stories “Time Is Not Alone,” “Time’s Defense,” and “X-Time War,” which can be considered a sequel of that novel. If his book is as much fun as these stories, I’d like to recommend it too. I’m certainly going to check it out.

Although not displayed in this fashion, the stories “Viewpoints,” “Crime and Consequences,” and “Beyond Space” could also be considered a novella. The principal protagonist is a woman who flees a planet ruled by a repressive theocracy as a teenager, does a number on its economy, and escapes their revenge. I can imagine turning this into a full-length novel.

There is also variety in length for these stories. They range from the one-page “The Silver Insult,” an alternate history of the American Revolution that doesn’t alter history (you’ll see what I mean when you read it), to some of the more novella-like stories mentioned above. But I was always entertained, no matter the length.

The author clearly enjoys his storytelling. You will too.

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