Note: Barbarians at the Jumpgate was a free review copy provided to Luke Reviews by Padwolf Publishing.
I’m slowly broadening my military science fiction reading from the big names and Black Library to the small presses. I took a look at the first volume of Dark Quest Books’ Defending the Future series, Breach the Hull, and I wanted to continue on that train of thematic relevance. Thus I picked up a new Padwolf Publishing release, Barbarians at the Jumpgate.
Barbarians at the Jumpgate turned out to be a simply excellent anthology. The theme of alien/human conflict played out wonderfully over the stories told. The stories range from John Sunseri’s “Biological Imperative,” with its wonderfully adaptable aliens, that shows that alien conflict can be just as richly imaginative, to the hilariously intelligent “Furlough,” where Patrick Thomas takes his Murphy’s Lore series into space. Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “Building Blocks” took a sort of Weinbaum-ian look at aliens who are truly alien, in her tale of the slow offensive of an entire planet.
Other top stories include Robert E. Water’s exciting “Pest Control,” “The Hardest Glory” by co-conspirators C. J. Henderson and editor Bruce Gehweiler, the tale of a frontier planet, and “The Levee Song” by Bernie Mojzes, which keeps the mystical, mythical resonances from The Evil Gazebo, but placing them in an all new, science fiction setting.
Overall, there are very few stories in here that won’t grip you. The writers formed action-packed tales that don’t forget about plot, strong characters, and vibrant settings, and give you the feel of the science fiction of before, with a sense of wonder available to those looking for it. A very worth-while collection for all fans of science fiction to pick up.