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Villains Victorious
edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers
DAW Books, 314 pages

Les Edwards
Villains Victorious
Martin H. Greenberg
Martin H. Greenberg is the most prolific anthologist in publishing history. He has won the Milford Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction Editing and was Editor Guest of Honour at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

ISFDB Bibliography
Martin H. Greenberg anthologies - 1st of 4 pages

John Helfers
John Helfers' short fiction includes "Blood Ghost," "Ghost in the Machine" and "In the Forest of Sorrows."

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Hank Luttrell


This is another great idea from Greenberg and his crew for an anthology of original stories. In this one, the bad guys and gals win.

Tanya Huff's "All Things Being Relative" is amusingly self-referential, as it concerns an evil queen -- recognizable from any number of fairy tales or fantasy epics -- who commissions a writer to collaborate on her autobiography. The queen becomes disenchanted when the writer becomes too commercially ambitious.

Rosemary Edghill's "The Mould of Form" concerns an exceedingly familiar villain, who's identity is revealed in a surprise ending; this tale is his secret origin story. (A number of these stories involve a surprise about who the villain actually is, so I'll try not to give that away when it matters.)

Peter Tremayne's "The Specter of Tullyfane Abbey" is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, concerned with a frustrating early encounter with Professor Moriarty.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Doubting Thomas" takes on the myth of Santa Claus with an unspeakable twist -- Claus is the villain!

"The Whiteviper Scrolls" by David Bischoff tells about a pair of thieves and murderers who betray each other while plundering an elves' kingdom. I'm not sure the villains really win in this story; after all, they end up a couple in the end.

Ed Gorman contributes "A New Man," a snappy sequel to an All American Crime Story.

"Souls to Take" by Gary A. Braunbeck & Lucy A. Snyder is powerful and distressing. A heroic abortionist is allied with a superhuman demon who maintains herself by eating human "essence." (Read, "biological potential" or "unexpired life span," sort of a vampire.)

"Horror Show" by Tim Waggoner features a familiar-feeling situation -- an over-the-hill monster movie actor who becomes a real monster.

"Death Mage" by Fiona Patton is a solid adventure about an evil necromancer. This villain is sort of magical-mafia, head of a dark fellowship, who has to deal with a threat to his family business.

"King of Thorns" by R. Davis is morally ambiguous. Are these people villains? Trained, professional killers are engaged in a sanctioned, official competition. The winner is the one who survives after all the others are killed, and will have the highest rank in the graduation class of warrior-assassins. The others will be resurrected, and graduated, but at a lower rank.

"The Usurper Memos" by Josepha Sherman makes some amusing points about bureaucracy -- you know, it doesn't work well and nobody likes it.

"To Speak with Angels" by Michelle West is the odyssey of an exceedingly powerful old man who journeys to hell to interrogate the devil.

"Heroes and Villains" by Peter Crowther reminded me of the ground-breaking, post-modern superhero graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and also the shared-world Wild Cards anthologies edited by George R.R. Martin.  In its own right, this story is a pleasant and nostalgic reflection on comic book and other kinds of story telling, where villains and heroes are opposite sides of the same coin, and necessary to each other in order to get their jobs done.

As usual, Greenberg and his collaborators, and especially his contributing writers, are to be congratulated for helping preserve the great tradition of the short story.

Copyright © 2001 Hank Luttrell

Hank Luttrell has reviewed science fiction for newspapers, magazines and web sites. He was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo Award and is currently a bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin.

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