Heroes can save the world, but villains can CHANGE it. We’ve assembled a great mix of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Come with us while we explore villains of all stripes — sons and daughters, lovers and fighters, minions and masterminds, in this giant volume of thirty great stories by award winners, rising stars, and bold new voices. With masterful tales by: Camille Alexa Erik Scott de Bie Chaz Brenchley Eugie Foster David Sakmyster Marie Bilodeau Richard Lee Byers K.D. McEntire Peadar Ó Guilín Jim C. Hines Ari Marmell Karin Lowachee Jay Lake Julie Czerneda J.M. Frey Clint Talbert Rachel Swirsky Tony Pi Leah Petersen J.P. Moore Ryan McFadden Todd McCaffrey Erik Buchanan Gregory A. Wilson Rosemary Jones Gabrielle Harbowy Ed Greenwood Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon Chris A. Jackson Steve Bornstein
“Heroes can save the world. But villains can change it, Rachel.”
The above quote is from J.M. Frey's story Maddening Science from the short-story anthology When The Villain Comes Home, and I think it captures the book in a nutshell. This is a collection of stories about people who are the other side of coin, the opposite of those we saw in When The Hero Comes Home. But are they?
To paraphrase another section of Villain, heroes are born of event while villains are born of intent. Any one of the protagonists in this collection could have been a hero, and some of them border on what we would consider as an anti-hero.
It's rare to find an anthology that doesn't have one or two clunker stories in it, stories that you read and go either "meh" or "huh". Like its predecessor, Villain doesn't have a single clunker amongst the bunch. I really enjoyed this collection, and I want to take a moment to highlight some of the stories that elevated this from good to wow!
Let's start with J.M. Frey's story since I've already quoted it. J.M.'s writing has this ability to be funny, sexy, geeky, and heart-wrenching all at the same time. After reading Maddening Science I can only hope my fiction can someday aspire to be half as good. I'm laying the praise on a bit thick but with good reason. The story is just that good.
Next let's talk about a story produced by one of my favorite people, Marie Bilodeau. (Seriously, she's a sweet-heart - if you ever get a chance to see her at one of her story-telling gigs or at a convention then go.) Her story, Happily Ever After, is another gem. It has Marie's classic story-telling voice running throughout it and at the same time I can see the evolution in her from from The Legend of Gluck (her story in When The Hero Comes Home) and her earlier novels. Happily Ever After feels more refined without losing any of the passion or movement of everything else Marie has produced.
Hmmm.... which one to highlight next. Oh, I know! How about Cycle of Revenge by Erik Buchanan? It's an interesting tale about a warlord who travels... oh, wait, can't reveal that as it would spoil things. Let's just say it plays around with some classic fantasy/sci-fi tropes quite well and shows what happens when we obsess about getting revenge on those who've wronged us.
I can't forget to mention Manmade by Leah Petersen. First because it's one of those stories where you can guess where it's gonna go and have a good idea how it's going to end after about half-way through but still enjoy entirely. It's also a story very much about being who you are and how trying to, ahem, compensate for what others perceive as a failing can backfire and then ultimately lead to accepting the truth about oneself. And finally because Leah scares me a bit. I mean, come on; she can knit with her hands and read a book with her feet at the same time. The woman is like a fur-less, skinny version of Beast from X-Men. Who knows what mutant powers she's hiding from us?
The truth is I could say something good about every story in this book, which is rare as most anthologies end up sneaking in a dud or two. As it stands, I recommend you check out When The Villain Comes Home, and indeed anytime Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood get together to edit an anthology you should give picking it up serious consideration.
I do recommend hitting your local bookstore to see if they can get it in for you.
Read my full review at wadingthroughbooks.wordpress.com!
A companion volume to When the Hero Comes Home, this anthology of short stories follows the theme of the villain’s return home from their dastardly deeds out in the world. Once a villain, always a villain? And just what makes a villain a villain? Featuring stories by Jim C. Hines, Jay Lake and Mercedes Lackey.
I love villains. They’re usually so much more interesting than the heroes. All the hero has to do is stand around posing heroically while wagging their finger and saying, “You can’t do that because it’s naughty. Because it’s wrong.” (Yes, a Buffy quote. There are Joss quotes for everything.) Or as J.M. Frey puts it so eloquently in her contribution to this anthology, “Heroes can save the world. But villains can change it.”
I particularly enjoyed the short stories “Heels” by K.D. McEntire, about the life problems faced by a career henchwoman, including family weddings, relationships with heroes, and the difficulties of finding a really good pair of stiletto heels for her costume; “Than to Serve in Heaven” by Ari Marmell, about when God asks Lucifer to look after Heaven for a while; “Maddening Science” by J.M. Frey, about a retired villain who just wants to be left alone, when he makes the mistake of rescuing a young woman from certain death; and “Home Again, Home Again (Another Mid-Death Crisis)” by Chris A. Jackson, about an evil necromancer warlord returning home from his latest conquest to the arms of his vampire wife and half-undead children–all in all, he’d rather be out conquering again.
This was soalalala. A few stories were pretty good and played a bit with 'Who is the Villain? Is a Villain really the one who seems to be it? Is it possible that the Villain is the Victim and the Victim is the Villain?' and so on but most just 'confirmed' the cliche.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
This review is only for The Bleach by Karin Lowachee. I could see where it was going and wasn't surprised nor impressed. I felt no connection to any of the characters (hard to create in 10 pages, but still possible) and the Bleach was never explained. Is it a place? A people? I guess I just wish there was more oomph to the story.
A diverse collection of tales from the perspective from the "bad guys" from legitimate monsters, reluctant outcast and virtuous rebels called out by society. This anthology does a good job. I found a couple of the stories less impressive than others but overall it was a wonderful read.
Another hit. When the Villain Comes Home is the perfect follow up to one of my new favorite classics When the Hero Comes Home. It has everything I loved about the first anthology in spite of the fact that there were more stories in this collection that I outright didn't like. But outside of that set there were stories.
This collection was so good I stopped reading it just so it wouldn't have to end. But now that I've finished it all I want is to reread it to pick up on the small aspects I missed the first time around. The villains in this collection temporally are all placed after their villainy. Home for these Villains isn't the same as with the Heros where most of them returned to a place of origin or birthing of herodome. For many of these Villains it's a struggle to even return to normalcy. Before they were known and powerful. Some are sympathetic, some you love to hate, a few you won't even recognize as in Starkeep where the protagonist isn't the villain. In Presuil a moment's understanding of the villain likely won't even change the war but it made a different and in that moment we learn a little about love and compassion.
Not all of the villains changed the world around them but darn it if some of them don't try very hard to.
As always, an anthology is an un-even collection of skills set and stories. This one is about villains returning to an origin point they somehow thought of as "home".
The concept presented in The Sunshine Baron by Peadar O Guilin is still freaking me out; as often happens in fantasy, the land lives and dies by the Hero-King, such as Arthur. Can you imagine the suffering under the Ruler of the Land when he is a selfish, gutless, self-serving Crown instead? I need to imagine no more; Peadar O'Guilin provided the perfect example when this villain is returned home.
Villianelle by Chaz Brenchley shows that villains can return to their roots to start growing again, though the base plant never changes.
Anyway, whether they are bad guys, worse guys, monsters, killers or just thieves, each of these villains must return home again. For some that home was heaven and others hell; most glimpses of home helps give the reader understanding why the character became a villain. Those at home were monsters (Oranges, Lemons, and Thou beside me), or maybe needed protecting from monsters (Hunger of the Blood Reever).
A fun read, mixing fantasy and sci-fi, a little heavy on the superpowered at the beginning.
Trigger Alert - two of the stories have rape. Not unexpected in a Villain anthology.
Its rare for me to find a short story anthology where I not only enjoy every single story, but that also has a few stories that surprise me. This book did both. I'd recommend it to anyone. The story weavers present things from swords and sorcery, to steam punk, and its all done to good effect.