Wyrd Worlds is a collection of fantasy and science fiction short stories by self-published authors. The book is free, as is its sequel, Wyrd Worlds II. The authors of these stories are hoping that you’ll enjoy their work, then seek out something else they’ve written.
As usual for my Bookends series, I have read the first and last story of the collection, and made a decision whether or not to complete reading the book.
First story: Tales of Erana: the Blue Phial by Alexandra Butcher
This is a simple story about a potion customer who confuses the libido-repressing potion intended for her husband with the libido-enhancing potion intended for her lover. That plot is potentially full of humor and drama, but the story has neither of those things, as it is told second-hand (third-hand?) as a conversation between the potion merchant and her apprentice.
Last story: Half-Blood by Barbara G. Tarn
This story tries to cram an entire epic fantasy into a short story; it goes all over the place – from a castle, to an underwater city, to a tribe of desert nomads.
There are some family murders driven by … stupidity. Apparently, a noble doesn’t realize that his son isn’t his biologically, despite the boy having recognizable genetic traits which belong to neither family. When the boy is around 18 years old, his mother, for no apparent reason, blurts out his true parentage to the noble, leading to her murder, which leads to a subsequent murder.
The boy escapes and eventually links up with desert nomads, who encourage him to abduct a young woman from a city, because apparently that’s the nomads’ version of dating. The woman expresses mild annoyance at being abducted, then there is an unexpected bath/massage scene (which is fortunately not explicit), then the woman relents and falls in love with him. Although there have been (and probably still are) cultures which would call this romance, most of us know it as “Stockholm Syndrome”. It’s interesting to see a fantasy author put a medieval attitude into a medieval setting, but I’m surprised she wasn’t afraid of being lynched by feminists.
To read, or not to read?
I won’t rule out further reading, but I doubt I’ll pursue it any time soon. These stories weren’t terrible, but they haven’t given me confidence that the rest of the collection is better than the other things in my “to-read” list.