Saturday, October 1, 2016

Finding Forever Homes

Scales and Tales: Finding Forever Homes

Edited by John Palisano

Publisher: William Wu Books

Pub. Date: September 3, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love rescued animals. One of the great joys in life is to give a forgotten animal a home. Now I am not extreme on this. I have friends who have purebred cats and dogs from reputable dealers and that is just fine. All animals need love. But if you are the average Joe, shelter animals and rescues are the way to go. But the real heroes are the people who spend their time and effort helping the many forgotten and abandoned animals in the world find such a loving home. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, devoting your life to rescuing animals must be the most direct way to bypass it and head straight to Nirvana

So here we have Scales and Tales, a collection of 21 stories about animals. It is a benefit anthology edited by John Palisano and published by William Wu. The proceeds will go to benefit three worthy rescues operations in the Los Angeles area: The Southwestern Herpetologists Society (Snakes need love too!), Star Paws Rescues, and Kitt Crusaders. The collection itself is a mixture od some old classics and new stories by writers who are mostly known for fantasy, horror and science fiction. The writers range from the legendary like Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker to rising stars like Amber Benson and Marv Wolfman. Others include David Gerrold, Dennis Etchison, Joe R Lansdale, Lisa Morton Larry Niven, William F. Nolan.. It's a big list of 21 authors!

Most of the fiction by more established writers seem to be retreads. Of the less known writers, it is hard to be compared to the Masters, there appears to be a little unevenness yet none of them miss their mark. Here are some of the tales that stood out for me, old and new. Joe R. Lansdale's "Fire Dog" is one of my all-time favorites and one of the oddest in the book since it about a man acting like a dog. Most of the others go right to the purring, barking or hissing source. I kept waiting for the animal connection in William F. Nolan's "One Clever Dude"...and then it hit me. The Ray Bradbury story is one that I never read before, not an easy feat to do, but it is the sweetest tale of the bunch. Sunni K. Brock is one of the few authors that gives cats and dogs a rest and goes for less considered but still worthy companions with "Iguana Iguana". David Gerrold wrote a most moving story about a girl, her dreams and a dog. It is so good that I will forgive him for using a punchline that misses because it evokes a well known movie. Marv Wolfman and Larry Niven gives us some nice science fiction to add to the mix.

Overall all it is a nice anthology. The use of older fiction offsets some of the surprises but it is still nice to revisit them and doesn't detract too much from the newer material. I would give this a 3 and a half star rating but i feel obligated to raise it a star purely for its noble intentions. If you see this book, pick it up for good reading and for the cause. But really, what is most important is to consider that bundle of fur or scales that depends on you. If you are thinking of getting a pet, remember the local shelter or humane society, There is a critter there waiting to be loved by you and yearning to be given the chance to love you back.

This review has been approved by Fred.

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