Worlds Long Lost, Sean CW Korsgaard and Christopher Ruocchio, eds
Fourteen stories about contact with alien artifacts after the aliens are long gone.
This is a short story collection featuring established sci-fi authors. The settings range from earth to deep space, from the near-now to the distant future. The tone of the stories varies from mysterious to comedic to horror to pulp adventures.
I found this anthology to be a mixed bag. “Sleepers of Tartarus” and “Dark Eternity” hit just the right notes for me—adventure, wonder, and amazing discoveries. These are the stories I hoped for when I cracked the anthology open.
The middle section of the anthology—“Never Ending, Ever-Growing,” “They Only Dig at Night,” “Howlers in the Void,” “The Building Will Continue,” and “re: something strange” was my least favorite portion of the book. These five stories are all horror tales, and I’m not a fan of spooky stuff. They are well-written and adequately creepy, just not to my taste.
If you like sci-fi with a seasoning of horror, I recommend Worlds Long Lost without reservation. If you don’t love horror, you might want to skip this one.
The stories are:
THE WRONG SHAPE TO FLY Adam Oyebanji
A fun little mystery story with a neat twist.
MOTHER OF MONSTERS Christopher Ruocchio
Set in the Sun Eater universe; a legionnaire mishandles an alien artifact and meets a cruel, and strange, fate
RISE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR M.A. Rothman & D.J. Butler
An alien super-consciousness deals with the threat of alien life by devising a test to filter out unworthy species.
MERE PASSERS BY Les Johnson
A deep-space expedition finds a system with three planets sharing one orbit—an impossibility. It’s clearly artificial, but the civilization that built it is long gone.
NEVER ENDING, EVER-GROWING Erica Ciko
A group of mercenaries undertake a rescue mission on a planet overwhelmed by something strange. A creepy story with a grim ending.
THEY ONLY DIG AT NIGHT Sean Patrick Hazlett
An ancient artifact buried on earth. A pharmaceutical corporation excavates it and applies the material as a drug. Another weird horror story.
HOWLERS IN THE VOID Brian Trent
A Lovecraftian horror story of humans and aliens marooned on a derelict world of parasites. A super-creepy tale that gave me chills.
THE BUILDING WILL CONTINUE Gray Rinehart
Cosmic horror about an expedition to a foreign planet that is taken over by parasites and forced to work on…something.
re: something strange Jessica Cain
A horror story set on earth and told through emails, text messages, and voice mails. Tension builds through uncertainty and vagueness. We never really know what’s going on, or what ultimately happens. This was my favorite horror story in the collection.
THE SLEEPERS OF TARTARUS David J. West
Fun, pulpy adventure about an astronaut who is sent to the past and faces real, live Sumerian gods. Our hero might be Sargon of Akkad. This was my favorite story from the anthology, and exactly the kind of thing I was really hoping for from the book.
DARK ETERNITY Jonathan Edelstein
The story of voyagers from a fallen culture following breadcrumbs to a lost storehouse of knowledge, then preparing to return (a thousand years later) to their home. I loved this story as well—a lost city, puzzles, a treasure trove at the end of the universe. One of the best in the anthology.
ROCKING THE CRADLE Patrick Chiles
Humanity find a wormhole to a distant star—and discover it’s our home. Gilgamesh’s tomb is there. A fun mystery story.
GIVING UP ON THE PIANO Orson Scott Card
An alien race makes contact with a teenaged house-sitter in Reno. This one feels unfinished, like it’s the first chapter of a book. It’s probably my least favorite story in the book.
RETROSPECTIVE Griffin Barbe
Space warfare at the individual level—a great battle story with an odd twist. The combat is good and the ending is strange, yet satisfying.