Tag Archives: A Fantastic Holiday Season

A Fantastic Holiday Season edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Keith J. Olexa

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A Fantastic Holiday Season
Author: Kevin J. Anderson, Keith J. Olexa, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Brad R. Torgersen, Mercedes Lackey, Quincy J. Allen, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Ken Scholes, Heather Graham, Sam Knight, Mike Resnick, David Boop, Eric James Stone & Patricia Briggs
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasShort story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 16th November 2018 – 29th January 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Of course it wasn’t possible that Jimmy had actually ridden in a hyperspace sleigh back to Ceres, when the journey from Ceres to Mars, and vice versa, ordinarily took weeks.

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Synopsis

‘Tis the Season-for 14 more magical, macabre and merry tales to make your Holidays … Fantastic! Gingerbread houses, caroling carolers, brightly trimmed trees, big family dinners, pristine snowfalls … the familiar pleasures of the season. But what better pleasure is there than a good holiday story? So open this winter solstice sampler and indulge in funny festive fantasies, nightmares before Christmas, and stunning space-age celebrations … these stories will warms hearts and minds like a blazing Yule log. Fantastic Holiday Stories by Kevin J. Anderson, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Eric James Stone, Nina Kiriki Hoffman., Quincy J Allen, Ken Scholes, Sam Knight, David Boop, Heather Graham, Brad R. Torgersen, Patricia Briggs

Thoughts

I bought this collection because the very last story is a short story in the Mercedes Thompson series that I don’t yet have. And I started reading this last year to try and get me into the Christmas spirit. And it worked. Beautifully. Fantastically. I’m actually sad that it’s over, even if I finished it after the Holiday Season…

The stories in this collection run the gambit from cutsie little fantasy tales to convoluted and entertaining science fiction tales. They fit into series and stand by themselves. And it’s this range that I truly love. After all, the reason why I tend to read so many short story collections at once is that they get a bit same-same with their tales. The fact that these are far more varied made this collection a little more difficult to put down, and a lot more fun to read than usual.

 <- Unappreciated Gifts ReviewNaughty & Nice Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas by Eric James Stone

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas
Author: Eric James Stone
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasScience fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: It’s okay.

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Synopsis

Three computer minds aren’t sure whether the humans who are inhabiting their planet are the ones that they’ve been waiting for. But, with a little Christmas magic and the love of a child, they might just find out the meaning of Christmas.

Thoughts

I kind of liked this take on Christmas time. It doesn’t really comment much on the holiday itself, but it does make commentary on how weird it would seem to alien races. After all, they make a connection with a child who is convinced that a strange man is soon going to come and visit him with presents. If a small child told me that… I’d be immediately concerned about abduction. Which ironically is kind of what happens… but you’ll have to read the story to understand what I mean.

The different voices of the three computer minds / alien sentinents had me laughing out loud throughout this story. Especially Two. Two was very single-minded, and unwilling to see beyond what it wanted. Which is exactly how I can be at times. But mostly I just found it completely hilarious the discussions and differences between the three voices. The satirical humour complimented the cuteness of the Christmas story perfectly.

 <- The Atmosphere for Miracles ReviewUnappreciated Gifts Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Atmosphere for Miracles by David Boop

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: The Atmosphere for Miracles
Author: David Boop
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasFantasy, Westerns
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: That is, until Sheriff Theodore Patrick walked into town.

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Synopsis

A town is cursed with horrible luck, but a new sheriff in town and a big problem on the eve of Christmas might be just what’s needed to change it all.

Thoughts

I really liked this story. I kind of wish that it was part of a greater series… a small town that is perpetually cursed. Especially on a Wednesday. That in and of itself is a great premise for a novel or series. And then there’s the sheriff who came to drink himself to death. And the Indian man who is running around in a tuxedo… they don’t entirely fit into the Western theme.

I didn’t really get a Christmas spirit vibe or feeling from this story. The only thing that is Christmassy about this tale is the fact that it all takes place just before that special day of the year. And the fact that there is briefly snow. Because apparently snow means Christmas. For me, snow means… well, no point of the year. Because it never snows where I’m from…

 <- Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s ReviewA Sufficiently Advanced Christmas Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s by Mike Resnick

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s
Author: Mike Resnick
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Comedy, Fantasy
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Then it’d be Off, Dancer!

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Synopsis

It might take a bet on the names of Saint Nick’s reindeers to finally get what is owed to him… but this debt collector and his motley crew will definitely do it.

Thoughts

I think that this story in some way relates to the characters in A Very Special Girl. And I enjoyed it just as much. It has the comedy and horror aspect that I’m beginning to associate with Resnick’s short stories. They’re funny and take some very typical aspects of fantasy and twist and turn them into something satirical and entertaining.

The fact that this story had not only a satirical spin, but also one that featured trying to name Santa’s reindeer made it incredibly fun. Especially when the names that were reported to be correct were kind of random. Yet, connected. It just worked beautifully. I need to find out if there is a greater series or something to sink my teeth into…

 <- Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus ReviewThe Atmosphere for Miracles Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Unappreciated Gifts by Patricia Briggs

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: Unappreciated Gifts
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega #3.5, Mercy-Verse #21
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasParanormal fantasy, Strong women, Werewolves
Dates read: 29th January 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: But Kelly did indeed know how to dance, and they soon progressed beyond the simpler moves into some more darinkg, dramatic… even melodramatic moves.

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Synopsis

Some members of Adam’s pack think Asil should get out more, so they’ve challenged him to accept a series of blind dates . . .

Thoughts

I really, really like Asil. And I really, really like Christmas. So a story that features both… I’m most likely going to enjoy that. And when it is written in the drily humorous tones of Patricia Briggs… yeah. I really couldn’t put this down. I wandered around the house (and walked into a few doorways) for about ten minutes while I just completely devoured this story.

The premise of giving a “gift” of five dates for Asil was funny from the very beginning. And I was expecting it to be a series of five short almost mini stories which outlined each of his adventures. Instead, it was just about the first one. And honestly, that was enough. It was kind of hilarious, really sweet and definitely highlighted just why I love Asil so much. After all, he has this sly sense of humour and a strong sense of dignity. Both things that I love in a man (and a character).

Unappreciated Gifts is a fun little, Christmassy return to the world of Mercedes Thompson. It is a good little laugh and a nice way to fall into the world, without being dragged too deeply under.

 <- Fair Game ReviewDead Heat Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus by Sam Knight

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus
Author: Sam Knight
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasScience fiction
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Viriginia didn’t answer.

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Synopsis

Virginia needs to do a project for school, but what if she’s really discovered the truth behind Santa Claus?

Thoughts

I’ve noticed that over the past few years, my Christmas spirit just hasn’t been all that… Christmassy. And I know that part of it is the fact that I’m getting older and so not as deliriously excitable about Christmas presents (plus, no one ever gets me books anymore)… yet, I think that the other part of it is the fact that Christmas is so commercial. There is this overwhelming idea that you have to have certain feelings, buy certain things and do things in a very specific way.

Obviously, Knight kind of feels the same. Set in a future sci-fi world in which your every move is monitored, a young girl has to fight to understand the holiday season. What is going on around her and outsmart a computer system to find her own freedom. All in a very few pages. It’s needlessly fun and a great reminder that maybe we don’t all have to feel excited about Christmas. Or even celebrate it in the same way.

 <- Santa’s Mortuary ReviewChristmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Santa’s Mortuary by Heather Graham

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: Santa’s Mortuary
Author: Heather Graham
Series: Krewe of Hunters #14.2
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasParanormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: It was amazing that their room – in the right wing of the building – could be so quiet and charming while all manner of activity went on in other parts of the house.

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Synopsis

It was amazing that their room – in the right wing of the building – could be so quiet and charming while all manner of activity went on in other parts of the house.

Thoughts

Christmas time is a time for love, family and laughter. Unless you are a slightly amorous ghost who is separated from the love of his life. Then it’s just a time of frustration and loss of love. And a potential way to ruin everyone else’s Christmas with your sense of loneliness.

Although Christmas is always toted to be a story of happiness, love and family, it is often a time of loneliness for some. I love that in a holiday story collection, there is a number of stories which feature this loneliness, including this Krewe of Hunters short story. And, I also love the fact that, like every good story, this one ends with a happy ending for all.

 <- A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie ReviewYes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie by Ken Scholes

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie
Author: Ken Scholes
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasComedy, Family
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: What’s that supposed to mean?

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Synopsis

It’s best to use fresh ingredients… especially when you are making a pie with a bit of a kick…

Thoughts

Family is always messy. It is always difficult. And it is always filled with crazy amounts of love (sometimes with extra helpings of the crazy). So an anthology of Christmas stories just wouldn’t be complete without a tale featuring a not-quite-functioning family. A set up. And a potential zombie apocalypse gone mad.

Although the potentially poisoning grateful pie is quite funny, as is the patient zero for the potential virus. What I loved most about this tale was the way in which everyone in the family is trying to set Kay Ann up. The plus ones that the family brings along all show what kind of person they think makes the perfect mate… and man do they run the gammitt. Yet, everything seems to work out well in the end with the craziness of family and the holiday season. Ending in a great scene with the lead striding off into the sunset, gun in hand…

 <- A Christmas Feast ReviewSanta’s Mortuary Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

A Christmas Feast by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A Christmas Feast
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Rot and Ruin Companion
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasZombies
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Dan couldn’t risk dragging him back out into the cold.

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Synopsis

It’s always important to have your Christmas celebrations – even if it’s the end of the world and the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.

Thoughts

I love the setting of Christmas against a zombie apocalypse (or at least, that’s what the setting seemed to be to me)…

Christmas time is a time of plenty. Joy. Family. Giving. Zombie apocalypses are a time of… well, nothing. Death. Killing family. Taking anything and everything. So having the two in a story that was kind of hopeful, but also quite dark, twisty made my dark and twisty soul happy. What I loved most though is that although there is a great sense of Christmas and maybe a respite from the horrors of the world… there is also this kind of lingering feeling that they’re about to die in the most horrible of ways. Nothing like a horrible death to make you love the festive season.

 <- Midnight Trains ReviewA World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Midnight Trains by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: Midnight Trains
Author: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasGhosts
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: 

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Synopsis

He’s alone at Christmas time in a beautiful city, but a chance encounter at a midnight train could bless him with the future he’s always wanted.

Thoughts

Although there was a slight paranormal spin to this Christmas tale, what I loved the most about it was the loneliness. Which seems a little weird in a Christmas tale. A story that seeps loneliness from its pores as it sweeps you through the beautiful and picturesque streets of Paris. The deserted streets, the Christmas lights, and most importantly, the mysterious train stations.

There was a lot going on in this short story, and I think that rereading it, I will find more clues. And maybe even rereading it after I’ve been to Paris (which is most definitely on my bucket list) will make it all the more real. But the idea of being and feeling apart and alone on Christmas is an incredibly common emotion. So the fact that Rusch took this and highlighted it worked fantastically well. Then there’s the fact that there is ultimately a happy ending which shows that no matter how lonely this Christmas is… the next one could be much, much, much better.

 <- Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry ReviewA Christmas Feast Review ->
Image source: Goodreads