Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Art of War: Anthology for Charity, edited by Petros Triantafyllou

Every once in a while an anthology crops up that is an instabuy for me, and this is one of them, as I often feel that short fiction anthologies don't get enough love. And having edited a fair few myself, I know exactly how hard it is to get copies to fly off the shelf. Art of War: Anthology for Charity edited by Petros Triantafyllou offers fans of GrimDark fiction a veritable treasure trove of names, including such luminaries as John Gwynne, Mark Lawrence, Rob J. Hayes, RJ Barker, Ulff Lehmann, and a whole bunch of others in a selection of war-torn tales that vary between the darkly humorous to plain old dark, with plenty of ultraviolence and more. Nope, if you're squeamish, maybe this is not for you.

Like all anthologies, it's going to be a bit of a mixed bag, and I went into it knowing that not all the stories would be my jam. That being said, I am happy to report that on the whole, the stories hit the mark with me, and there were only a few that left me a bit meh. Even better, the anthology was put together for a good cause, with all proceeds going to MSF (Doctors Without Borders). So if ever there is even more motivation to egg you on to pick up a copy, there we have it.

War is ugly. War has also been overly romanticised in our media. When we read historical accounts of battles, we are often faced primarily with the dry opinions of historians who weren't there, or who focus on the doings of a few high-and-mighty general who didn't get blood on their hands ... or who took all the glory. Or even exaggerated the roles they played when it came to gaining victories. What I loved about the stories in this anthology, was that many of them focused on the human element, on those literally in the trenches. I did feel, however, that a more attentive proofreader might have caught the grammar goblins and gremlins, but the occasional dropped word or typo weren't deal-breakers for me, because on the whole, the quality of the writing more than made up for the occasional slip. But I feel I must mention the slips, for I saw a fair few of them.

I'm happy to recommend this collection of devious tales – and I'm not going to single out any of them because I prefer you to make up your own mind about what you like – to anyone who's looking for flights of dark fantasy that are, well, suitably grim, and occasionally with a slight glimmer of hope.

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