Schemers: Betrayal Knows No Boundaries edited by Robin D. Laws
Genere(s): Anthology, Fiction, Murder, Suspense
Publisher: Stone Skin Press
Availability: Paperback, eBook
Description: In this innovative anthology of genre-spanning short fiction, each never-before-published story relates the impact of a manipulative influence on the lives of hapless victims. These poison-soaked pages offer a cruel lover who refashions her prey, a bioengineered warrior who goes on the run, an internet mapping service with a stalker’s eye, a carjacker with a conscience, a Victorian thespian who turns supercriminal, and a murderer of video game characters. These stories, by writers including Jesse Bullington, Tobias S. Buckell, Ekaterina Sedia, and more, all explore the grand schemes, Machiavellian maneuvering, and the knotty, micro-scaled twistings of the human heart.
Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of this book; Stone Skin Press hasn’t done anything to make me write a positive or negative review — yet… They might be up to something… After all they did publish a book about schemers….
I absolutely fell in love with Stone Skin Press when they published The New Gothic: Don’t Embrace the Darkness, Fear It. So, when Stone Skin Press was kind enough to provide me with a review copy of another one of their books, I got excited. Before I start reviewing the content, I want to take a few sentences to talk about the physical properties of this book.
With e-readers becoming more popular, and the cost of new hardbacks be prohibitive to veracious readers, I feel like some companies have forgotten how to produce quality trade paperbacks or even just regular paperbacks. Many people I know abhor e-readers because they miss the tactile sensation of books. These days few of us have the luxury of toting around a hardback book that is to be read for pleasure. Enter the paperback: it smells and feels like a book should but isn’t as bulky as the hardbacks of yore. The trade paperback has found a nice niche as being a nice compromise between the hard back book and the paperback. With Schemers and The New Gothic, Stone Skin has published two trade paperbacks that I would proudly display on any library Bookshelf. The first thing that struck me was the heft of these books. Sure no one wants to carry around a ton of extra weight, but with this book it is worth the few extra ounces. The cover was creased just a bit by the spine, to provide tons of re-reading opportunities without harshing the cover. The pages were of a heavier bond than many of the more recent books I have read. Reading this trade paperback made me feel like I was reading a hardback no matter where I read the book. What is even better is the fact that this book isn’t simply well published; its mind is as beautiful as its body.
Schemers is a complex book; you really do have to pay attention to what you are reading. If you are looking for light reading, you might want to look elsewhere. This is a collection of Short stories, so while the plots are complex (what good scheme isn’t?), the stories are easy to read and most of them don’t reveal themselves until the last page or so. Many of the authors did a tantalizing job of giving you small tastes of what was going on — and a few just flat out blew my mind and left me wanting more. Unlike my last date with Stone Skin Press, I can’t walk away from this collection saying there wasn’t a story I didn’t like — there were two that were not to my taste, but I won’t point them out because they might appeal to others.
Stone Skin Press is doing some amazing things and is a publisher to look out for. They have shown a willingness to go there, without trying to convince us all how edgy they are, they are just edgy. I fell like Stone Skin Press really has a respect for the genres that that collect stories for. That respect is manifest in the collections that I have read and reviewed so far. Schemers should be a great book for people who like murder, mystery or intrigue. It is a real treat to see a book that is complex and beautiful inside and out. I would ask you to raise your glasses and toast the success of Schemers, but after reading this book, you might think twice before drinking the pro-offered beverage, when a book can make you think twice it is a stone cold success!