Fearsome Creatures is a collection of four inspiring short stories, of the kind I grew up reading with relish as a boy. I can still remember those old sci-fi books I’d come across in my school library or, if pickings were scarce, at my municipal alternative. For every one of those book I would find a handful of imaginative tales written by the great authors of old. And it was those books, more so than the monolithic slabs of fiction produced by some authors, which roused my appetite for science fiction.
Fearsome Creatures felt like that. In the first story (Break Down) I even detected a reference to TANSTAAFL. Although any who study the Wild West may know its meaning, I suspect it was a nod at Robert Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, a timeless piece and arguably Heinlein’s greatest work.
Warning: anyone in search of stories with character development needs to steer clear from this book. Of course, anyone foolish enough to think there’s any character development to be had in a collection of short stories is obviously unaware of the specific appeal and function of the short story, and would be better served with a thicker tome. The sci-fi short story lays out visions, notions or ideas, either in snippets of intense action or in broad strokes, meant to tantalize our imagination or draw us to new concepts. The author has succeeded in doing precisely that!
Set within this framework, the four stories of Fearsome Creatures share a specific theme: that of the immense possibilities surrounding extraterrestrial species and of the shape they may take once we come across them. The stories also lay out one flat fact: if or when such contact takes place, we will do well to fear for our lives. This is a book I’d recommend to anyone with a functioning brain.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for an objective and non-reciprocal review.