Thursday, January 18, 2007

Edited by David Moles and Jay Lake

Who can resists a title like All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories? I couldn’t, so I bought it knowing full well that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But then it turned out that the cover didn’t lie.

I dare say just about every kind of luftschiffe there is turns up in here. There are retro-zeppelins (“The Last of the Zeppelins” by Jed Hartman), zeppelins restored by time-travel (“The Eckener Alternative”), gambling zeppelins (“The Sky’s the Limit” by Lawrence M. Schoen), cyber-punk zeppelins (“Sky Light”by David Brin), even living zeppelins (“Voice of the Hurricane by Paul Berger”).

If there’s one thing besides zeppelins here it’s alternative history/alternate worlds. In “Voice of the Hurricane” we have an Old West where giant floating gasbag creatures, not buffalo are the great grazing beasts. A determined time traveler in “The Eckener Alternative” seeks to prevent the golden age of zep travel from coming to an end. Other time travelers (“Where and When” by James van Pelt) discover that time streams are not easily diverted. One of my favorites is “Instead of a Loving Heart” (Jeremiah Tolbert) about a mad scientist, his estranged daughter, and a robot with the brain of a man. It’s a truly touching story where genre cliches become an excellent tale about relationships (and zeppelins).

Two other stand-outs are the swashbuckling “Biographical Notes” (by Benjamin Rosenbaum) where SF fandom collides with an alternate world where the Indians and the Chinese colonized the West. “You Could Go Home Again” is a lovely closer by Howard Waldrop where he imagines a better world for Tom Wolfe, Fats Waller, and zeppelin travel.

All-Star Zeppelin Adventure is a charming love-letter from SF to its favorite mode of air-travel.
-Dave Hardy


JIm Van Pelt said...

Hi, Dave. Thanks for the kind comments about the collection and my story in it. I thought the book turned out to be a fine read too.

Dave Hardy said...

I really liked "Where and When". The historical detail was great, the scientific idea was well excuted, and the suspense kept me reading.

I guess I'd call it a good, Campbellian-style sf story. I think those can be tough to execute well, so I've got to hand it to you for making that one so enjoyable.