Matthew Wayne Selznick's "The Sovereign Era: Year One" Tales from the dawn of the Sovereign Era! April, 1985: The world is stunned to discover individuals with remarkable powers and abilities living among us! Explore a mosaic history of the first twelve months of the Sovereign Era in these stories from seven superstars of new media fiction: Mur Lafferty - "You Must Be My Lucky Star" Jared Axelrod - "Can't Get There From Here" Nathan Lowell - "Mouse Mousey" P.G. Holyfield - "Every Breath You Take" J.R. Blackwell - "I Wear My Sunglasses At Night" Matt Wallace - "Sangre del Sureños" J.C. Hutchins - "Dear Mr. Donner" Featuring cover art by Jeffrey Himmelman!
Matthew Wayne Selznick is a fiction and non-fiction author, editor, creator, and consultant living in Huntington Beach, California. Best known for his award-nominated first novel BRAVE MEN RUN, he writes in a variety of genres and storyworlds.
Find him at https://www.mattselznick.com, where he can be hired to help bring your creative endeavor to the world, and where you can find articles and podcast episodes proving opinion, advice, and recommendations on staying human while creating a successful and healthy writing life, as well as personal insights, reflections, and observations.
I really enjoyed the Podiobooks version of Brave Men Run, so when Matthew Wayne Selznick was running a survey on whether to write more in the setting I voted "yes" and picked up this collection of short stories (by other authors, in his setting) off his website as well.
It's a bit of a mixed bag. A couple of the stories suffer from the curse of indie writers: amateur editing. Matt Wallace's Mexican gangbangers call each other "essay" (I think that's "ese", Matt), but the prize goes to Jared Axelrod, who has someone cutting a "break" line with a pair of "sheers". You can just imagine those thin stockings cutting through the dancing kids as they spin on the ground...
If there's a theme to this book it's of escape, getting away from your inadequate or even abusive life to the magical, distant compound where William Donner is gathering the X-Men (sorry, the Sovereigns). Men don't come out looking too good. Only one of the seven stories doesn't feature violence by men against women (and only because there are no women onstage in Matt Wallace's gangbanger story - all the violence is between men). MWS is just four days younger than me, and I remember growing up in the 80s too. I don't remember it as such a violent and abusive time, myself, though I wasn't in the USA and perhaps I lived a sheltered life.
These are basically origin stories, stories of beginnings, and after reading seven stories of beginnings with no real endings I felt a bit unsatisfied, to be honest.
In Brave Men Run, Matthew Selznick looked at the Donner Declaration, where it was revealed that metahumans walk among us, and how that declaration affected a young man named Nathan Charters. This sequel/supplement doesn't feature Nathan at all, but is set in the same world, and looks at the impact that the Donner Declaration has on the lives of different people in the months following it.
Two things stood out to me when reading this book. The first is the sheer collection of talent in the book: I know they're not all necessarily well-known outside of podcast/new media circles, but you've got Lafferty, Axelrod, Lowell, and Hutchins all in one book? Amazing. Especially as, while each leaves their own distinct mark on the story they've written, there's an overall feeling cohesion to the universe that they're working in that unifies the stories.
Secondly, this is a really good collection of character-driven fiction. Superheroic powers are involved, but they never take centre stage, and the stories are all more about how these people are affected by the powers they receive (for good and ill). It's refreshing to read something in this genre that focuses in that direction.
I'm always eager to read another authors take on one authors work. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. The authors that contributed to this collection of short stories are authors that I have read and enjoy immensely. That said, not everyone of them can hit the mark set by Selznick. Mur Lafferty's "You Must Be My Lucky Star" is a good story, but it doesn't really delve in to the world of the Sovereigns like Jared Axelrod's "Can't Get There From Here" or Nathan Lowell's "Mouse Mousey". But J.C. Hutchin's "Dear Mr.Donner" was by far the best of the bunch. It's the story of a girl in the mountains of West Virginia as told to Mr. Donner through written correspondence. It's engaging from the first words and completely enthralling.