Nancy Kilpatrick, editor
Hades Publications (April 2015)
By random happenstance, the next book on my TBR pile was another collection from Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing (an imprint of Hades Publications, to get picky). LibraryThing sent me this one, too, as an Early Reviewer giveaway. Expiration Date is a collection of tales all having to do with endings–the death of someone in the story, more often than not. The editor Nancy Kilpatrick sets out the parameters of the anthology in an interesting introduction that got me excited to read the stories.
The book is divided into three sections, “Negotiating Oblivion,” “Resisting Extinction,” and “Best Before/Best After.” I found excellent stories in all three parts. Favorites include: Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s* “This Strange Way of Dying,” a cool tale of love and death; “The Twenty Seven Club” by J.M. Frey**, which provides a possible explanation for the early deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendryx, et al (you know about the 27 Club, right?); Rebecca Bradley‘s “An Inspector Calls,” which shows the inner workings of ancient Egypt’s funeral industry; R.B. Payne‘s look into the mind of a comatose woman in “The Long Wait;” and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens‘ “things in jars,” a perfect Twilight Zone piece. Each of these authors brings a unique shape to the theme, or, if not exactly brand new, holds it to the light in a way that makes it shine.
My main complaint with Expiration Date is that it relies too heavily on stories that use the overdone (to my tastes) “bargaining with death” trope without really making anything new out of it. I think this weakens the collection and bogs down the middle for me. That said, the collection’s another solid read from Edge and worth checking out.
*I also enjoyed Moreno-Garcia’s translation of Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas’ “Ahuizotl” in the Apex Book of World SF, volume 3
**whose “The Moral of the Story” was one of my many favorites in Wrestling With Gods