June 7, 2020

Friday Review: Wishes Edited by Rebecca Moesta

Wishes: on sale now!

Quick: what are you wishing for this coming Christmas day? Here’s a funny but true story: I almost opted not to read and review this week’s book selection. And not for the reason that we do (albeit rarely) turn books down, as in we’re leery of giving prospective pseudoscience non-fiction books a platform. At first glance, we thought that Wishes was primarily a fantasy fiction collection.

We’re glad we persevered and looked beyond the cover. We then remembered that we’d actually written a tale in the classic ‘three wishes’ story trope ourselves, and that of our favorite classic Twilight Zone and X-Files episodes were also in the same vein.

And Wishes by Fiction River edited by Rebecca Moesta for WMG Publishing delivers. This is Number 28 in the Fiction River original anthology magazine, a series edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

As well worn as the trope is, we actually love three wishes type stories, and the 16 tales in Wishes all put a delightful new twist on the idea. What I think makes the concept resonate is how it encapsulates human hubris; here’s just how short-sighted we really are, given unlimited power. Here’s how a typical three wishes tale usually goes down:

One: Wishing for something basic and immediate to the protagonist’s crisis/situation. In my envisioning of the tale, it’s “fix this damn truck…”

Two: Our protagonist realizes that the three wishes grant is real, and (thinks) they’re getting wise to it. i.e.“I want a hot girlfriend…”

Three: Panicking and realizing they only have one wish left, the protagonist realizes they’d better make the final wish a good one, and usually gets tripped up in the process. Like “I want to live forever,” in which case, the protagonist lives through the extinction of humanity and the heat death of the Universe and beyond….

You get the idea. Here are some of the highlights from Wishes:

The Rock of Kansas by Eric Kent Edstrom: An alien force lands in Kansas, and commences to grant its capricious whim to the most down and out among us. Is this a wanton social experiment, with some sort of inscrutable goal? This tale kept us guessing until the end.

How I Became a Fairy Godmother by Bonnie Elizabeth: Fairy Godmothering ain’t easy, as cynical and snarky Willow Vaughn is about to find out. As an assigned fairy godmother, wishes well up like pains from within, and Willow must scour the planet looking for someone—anyone–to grant them to for release. But is there a possible loophole to this charmed existence?

As Fast as Wishes Travel by Dale Hartley Emery: The art of wishing makes its way into fifth period geometry class. This one turns the whole human hubris mantra on its head. Turns out, there are good reasons to fear wishes.

And those are just a few of the highlights from the book. Be sure to read Wishes, but be careful what you wish for.

Also, catch our reviews of the Fiction River Anthologies No Humans Allowed, Christmas Ghosts, Alchemy and Steam and Recycled Pulp.