This year’s WOTF cover by artist Larry Elmore is a departure from the standard science fiction themed artwork. To celebrate the collection, author Todd McCaffrey penned a special short story inspired by Elmore’s art. This cover and McCaffrey’s tale, along with the vibrant 30-plus year history of WOTF, encapsulate the richness, relevance and excitement represented by the 17 stories and artwork included here. I look forward to this annual anthology, and always come away feeling inspired by this marvelous tapestry of tales.
Here’s the rundown on this year’s exciting collection: Moonlight One by Stephen Lawson is a tight and thrilling science fiction mystery; The Armor Embrace by Doug C. Souza brilliantly handles the man versus technology theme; and Envoy in Ice by Dustin Steinacker is a thought provoking tale about intergalactic intelligence and issues of faith. Tears for Shulna by Andrew L. Roberts is a wonderful, richly textured tale that resonated with me long after I finished reading it; The Drake Equation by C. L. Kagmi wisely tackles some heavy themes relating to violence, decision-making and responsibility. It was at this point that I realized this year’s collection was maintaining the high standard of diversity in viewpoints and styles that have become the unofficial hallmark of the WOTF collections.
Acquisition by Jake Marley is a top-flight supernatural thriller while Obsidian Spire by Molly Elizabeth Atkins is a riveting fantasy story with great a great character in Varga, and one that I’m certain readers will want to learn more about (hint!). Gator by Robert J. Sawyer, who is one of the judges, offers up a sharp tale to demonstrate the attributes and successes that come with “spec” writing; A Glowing Heart by Anton Rose is rich fantasy tale about life and death, but mostly about life; The Long Dizzy Down by Ziporah Hildbrandt is a hard-core science fiction tale and brilliant from the first paragraph; The Woodcutter’s Deity by Walter Dinjos had me spellbound with its vibrant texture.
The Dragon Killer’s Daughter by Todd McCaffrey was inspired by Larry Elmore’s fantastic cover and adds another layer of enjoyment to this already stunning collection. Useless Magic by Andrew Perry defines responsibility and power with this deftly told tale; Adramelech by Sean Hazlett explores the nature of evil with concise prose and great insight; and The Fox, the Wolf and the Dove by Ville Merilainen is another exciting fantasy story. The final tale, The Magnificent Bhajan David VonAllmen is a wonderful story about an old wizard returning home to save the day, if he can.
Included also is the fantasy classic story, The Devil’s Rescue by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the WOTF contest. Hubbard’s tale is a personal favorite, and is included in the collection along with essays on creativity by Hubbard, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Elmore, and Bob Eggleton. Once again the annual WOTF volume refreshingly delivers a sampling of diverse and highly creative stories that I guarantee will keep you flipping the pages!