I enjoyed reading this book, overall, more than I thought I would. It has eleven short stories that are 'stand alones' and the rest of the book is composed of a collection called the 'econo-war.' The 'econo-war' 'series' is interesting in that the stories are arranged as Eric Flint sees fit [I assume he did some kind of research to determine the order of the stories] and not necessarily in the order in which they are written [for instance, the 'last' econo-war story in the volume was written before the other stories, making it the 'first' story when it is the 'last' story]. The stand alone stories moved at a pretty good clip. The econo-war stories kind of dragged.
I think part of the reason why I enjoyed reading this collection is that it seemed to be more unique than other stories. There is a race of beings that becomes addicted to chocolate, there is a planet set aside by humanity specifically for certain insects [bees, ants, butterflies, and spiders]. There is a dystopian story where dogs apparently are the 'ruling class' [at least, that is how it seemed to me, that the dogs let humans live in order to act as a mobile larder for the dogs]. I also liked how humanity could not travel through outer space wearing nothing but shorts, boots, and a shirt. [Obviously there have been technological enhancements that allow humans to survive the harsh environment of outer space, but I still enjoyed reading about the concept].
The worst story is 'the Earth of Nenkunal', and that is primarily due to a man raping a child who had been 'cursed' to turn into a woman in two weeks time. Despite the woman having the mind and experiences of a child and her 'protector' knowing this, the 'hero' rapes her. This was bad enough, but then the author has the 'woman-child' enjoy the experience
!?! [It reminded me of the second 'Colossus' book, where the professor's wife is continually raped until she comes to love her rapist guard.] I do not get this mindset, that women enjoy being raped and want to be raped. Anyway. Worst part of the book.
I enjoyed 'Creatures of Man' and 'the Psychivore' the most. 'the Reluctant Weapon' was also pretty crazy and kind of sad, in a bizarre sort of way. Or maybe more melancholy, as the weapon could not fulfill its mission due to the race it was searching for having been extinct for billions of years . 'Health Hazard' was pretty good; it was kind of funny and had an interesting twist to it the planet's inhabitants becoming addicted to chocolate; humans attempting to modify the natives' survival instincts so that they could better survive on the planet .
'Fit for a Dog' was disturbing. I doubt it could be released today due to the dogs focusing on eating homosexuals and other humans they deemed as non-prolific in terms of bearing children .
'Practice' was kind of weird. It involves a batch of 'children' who are telepathic; since they can read thoughts, they are understandably upset when their adult teachers have inappropriate [sexual] thoughts directed at the children and at each other. That story made me a bit uncomfortable.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this collection. I did not necessarily like or enjoy everything in the collection, but I enjoyed it, overall. Reply