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When I first started reading science fiction/fantasy novels, there used to be a lot of compilations by authors, new and established. It gave you a chance to test the waters of new authors, but it also gave you novellas from favorite authors. That practice is not as predominant now as it used to be, and I miss them.

I bring you a review of a compilation, “Fantastic Hope,” edited by Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey.

Hamilton writes in her foreword how she, too, misses the compilation books. Those compilations allowed a lot of authors to get their start in the writing business. McCaskey is a new author; his first novel came out months before this compilation.

This book is special — more so right now with all the news of COVID, isolation, murders and protests.

I can’t say it better than Hamilton, “Unlike the real terrors of the world online and in the news lately. It’s like we’re all on the front lines of whatever crisis or natural disaster is happening anywhere in the world, at any given time; there is no break in the stream of bad news, or so it seems.”

She goes on to mention the number of books and movies about dystopias where everything has gone wrong as it can being at the top of the box office and bestsellers list. I feel the same way. I don’t read dystopian novels (like the “Hunger Games”) nor do I watch dystopian movies (like “The Purge”); to me they are a depressing commentary on our society’s enjoyment of other people’s pain.

If you don’t like science fiction/fantasy; this is not your cup of tea. However, each and every story has a happy ending. There is hope, love, loyalty, freedom and all the positive things that bring out the best in humanity.

There are stories set in space; in alternate worlds where the fantastical creatures live side by side with humans; there’s even a story set in the 1800’s when pioneers were traveling west.

In that story, a young woman stays behind in a cave to help a mother give birth. When the mother dies in childbirth, the young woman must somehow reunite with the caravan moving west in a horrific snowstorm and get the baby back to the rest of the family. It is a story of family loyalty, belief in God and love. In the story, no matter what happens, the young woman has a hymn on her lips and believes that God will take care of everything.

If you’ve never read science fiction/fantasy, this is your best way to dip your toe in the water. A short story doesn’t take long to read, and if you don’t like one, you can skip to the next one.

Susan McKinney is the librarian at St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library. She received her master’s in library science from the University of Illinois. She came here from Indiana for graduate school and fell in love with the area. She has lived here ever since. She is an avid reader and enjoys mystery, suspense, fantasy and action novels.