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Warriors    edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois order for
by George R. R. Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his Introduction to Warriors, editor George R. R. Martin speaks of the spinner rack of his childhood, filled with paperbacks in all genres. Martin considers that 'genre walls are hardening', which isn't good for either readers or writers. He feels that 'Books should broaden us, take us to places we have never been and show us things we've never seen, expand our horizons and our way of looking at the world. Limiting your reading to a single genre defeats that. It limits us, makes us smaller.' Hear, hear!

Martin introduces the Warriors contributors as 'an all-star lineup of award-winning and bestselling writers, representing a dozen different publishers and as many genres.' It is indeed a spinner rack collection, whose twenty authors include some of the biggest names around - in addition to Martin himself, we have great writers like Cecelia Holland, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, Peter S. Beagle, Diana Gabaldon, James Rollins, David Weber, and David Morrell.

The anthology opens on my all-time favorite historical author Cecelia Holland, with a short story starring Corban Loosestrife's son Conn and nephew Raef (from her fantastical 10th century quintet that roams through Europe and across the Atlantic to Vinland. As always Raef has the impulsive Conn's back, as the latter leads them into trouble (allied with the Jomsvikings against Hakon, Jarl in Norway) and out again.

In Joe Haldeman's Forever Bound, future soldiers operate soldierboys (similar in some ways to avatars), with unexpected consequences. In The Triumph, master fantasist Robin Hobb tells of the last service a Roman does for his friend, tortured and caged in the Carthaginian sun. Lawrence Block offers a noir account of a woman's revenge for childhood abuse in Clean Slate. Tad Williams' And Ministers of Grace shows a far future fundamentalist reinventing himself. Joe R. Lansdale's engaging Soldierin' is an old West saga in which an ex-slave learns to be 'a buffalo soldier and a good'n.'

Peter S. Beagle's Dirae stars a ghostly avenger. In The Custom of the Army, Diana Gabaldon sends Lord John Grey to fight on the Heights of Abraham. In Naomi Novik's Seven Years from Home, a Confederacy agents sides with underdog colonists, who have suprising abilities of their own. Steven Saylor takes readers back to Carthage in The Eagle and the Rabbit (brutal Roman slavers ascendant this time.) James Rollins' The Pit tells of the redemption of a horribly abused animal, brutally trained for dogfights.

One of my favorites in this collection is David Weber's Out of the Dark, in which mythological creatures emerge to turn the tide when Earth is almost destroyed by aliens. Carrie Vaughn's The Girls from Avenger shines a bright light on American World War II Women Airforce Service Pilots. George R. R. Martin gives readers a dark 'Tale of the Seven Kingdoms' in The Mystery Knight. And there are more stories by S. M. Stirling, Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, David Morrell, Robert Silverberg, and David Ball.

If you enjoy short stories, don't miss this excellent and eclectic spinner rack collection of fiction, with elements of history and mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and horror - and a common theme of Warriors of all kinds.

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