Can writers today still produce stuff with the verve and the flavor—the outright joy—of the pulp and pulpy tales of yesteryear? The Lost Empire of Sol is evidence they can. A collection of otherwise unconnected tales set in a far-future, solar system spanning shared world, The Lost Empire of Sol owes much to the Leigh Brackett’s sword and planet yarns, but also to the dying earth of Jack Vance.
The stories are set after the decline and fall of the solar-system spanning Empire of Sol. Planets are dying because the advanced technology that made them livable is failing and no man living can fix them. Far future science exists alongside magic and psionics. Congress among planets is largely lost, although dungeon-crawling might uncover a portal to another planet.
Man, this would be a fun sandbox to tabletop rpg in.
The solar system faces another threat, one used as a framing mechanism rather than something really part of the stories within. A world-eating leviathan approaches. I won’t say more, but this was one of the coolest things from the book.
Too many speculative fiction short stories these days have nothing that resembles a plot (you can get away with this in short fiction in a way you can’t with longer works, but only some of the time). The stories here all have a plot. Most mitigate the downsides of very limited word counts by implying a lot of story before and often after. It could be annoying, but I instead found myself intrigued by the implied story and worldbuilding, letting my imagination run wild.
Table of Contents:
- What Really Happened at the Center of the World by Christopher M. Blanchard
- To Save Hermesia by Joe Bonadonna and David C. Smith
- The Lost Princess of Themos by Tom Doolan
- Outcasts of Jov by Mark Finn
- Survivors of Ulthula by E.E. Knight
- A Sand-Ship of Mars by Charles Allen Gramlich
- Hunters of Ice and Sky by David Hardy
- Whisper of the Serpent by Howard Andrew Jones
- A Gate in Darkness by Paul R. McNamee
4 of 5 Stars.
(Yes, I know it is Friday. I regret nothing.)