Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.
Reviewed by Mark Lardas
May 29, 2022
“Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Satisfying Stories with a Delicious Twist,” WordFire Press LLC, 2022, 238 pages, $23.99 (Hardcover), $16.99 (Paperback), $4.99 (Ebook)
Food: it is a central part of our lives. It is surprising how relatively little fantasy and science fiction centers upon food. F&SF explores the human condition, extrapolating the present into alternate realities. Why not explore food?
“Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: Satisfying Stories with a Delicious Twist,” edited by Lisa Magnum, takes on that challenge. It is a collection of nineteen fantasy and science fiction stories, with food as a theme.
The nineteen contributors go many different directions with their stories. This book contains hard science fiction, classic fantasy, and just about everything in between, including a variety of genres. There is an old-fashioned murder mystery, a noir adventure, classic horror, post-apocalyptic tales, and urban fantasy. Some stories are laugh-out-loud funny. Others are tragic. A few would serve for an episode of Twilight Zone or Game of Thrones .
The book’s charm lies in its use of food as a theme for its stories. One tale is set in a reality cooking show in a world where magic works. Another story shows what happens when you put a love potion on a pizza. There are stories about poisoners and stories about food so good you crave nothing else. A few stories focus on family gatherings or going back home – or not being able to go home again.
They are equally spread in space and time. San Francisco, Louisiana, and the American Midwest form sites for some of the stories. Others are set on the edge of human occupied space while other are set in fantasy worlds. The stories take place in an undefined medieval past, the present or near future or in the far future.
The most surprising and pleasing aspect of the book is the originality of the stories. There are a lot of unexpected twists. Better still, all are well put together, short and entertaining. The stories do not drift. They snap – and often leave you wishing for more.
Most of the stories are new, original to this anthology. Only three were previously published all within the last four years. Most of the authors are relative newcomers with only one “name” author (Kevin J. Anderson) present. This book is a good way to introduce yourself to authors you may not have previously known about.
“Eat, Drink, and Be Wary” is good fun, and an entertaining read. Magnum has mixed together a blend of piquant short stories, with something for everyone. It is worth reading.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com. This review appeared in a different form in the February 2022 American Essence magazine