Book Reviews

The Flavors of Other Worlds: 13 Science Fiction Tales from a Master Storyteller by Alan Dean Foster


Released: March 2019
Publisher: WordFire Press LLC
Pages: 188
Rating: 4/5

An impressive collection of science fiction short stories that take place both here on Earth and in the far flung reaches of the universe. All but the final one have previously appeared in other publications, but this was the first time I had read any of them (or anything by this author).


The book’s official synopsis sums this collection up better than I could:

From fighting giant bugs to defeating an interstellar empire without firing a shot; from scientific idiot savants toying with the universe to how the robots will really win the robot apocalypse, these thirteen flavorful tales are guaranteed to entertain, amuse, awe, and maybe even enlighten.

Includes the first appearance in print of the Icerigger novellete “Chilling” and a new novelette, “Valentin Sharffen and the Code of Doom.”

Up until recently, short fiction wasn’t a genre I really spent much time with. I have so many full length books on my never ending TBR that I didn’t really see the point. I had tried reading some in the past, but found I preferred novels more. Clearly, I was reading the wrong short stories.

In the past year, I’ve been trying to read more short stories and novellas, including Strange Weather by Joe Hill and The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. Both were amazing! So slowly but surely I’m becoming a convert and Flavors of Other Worlds is only cementing that fact. I haven’t read anything by this author before, but he has been on my radar for awhile and I think this was a great introduction to his writing. If these stories are any indication, he’s not only hilarious but an extremely talented science fiction writer.

Each story has a short introduction from the author explaining the thought processes or inspirations behind it. This sounds like it could ruin the stride of the book but actually it’s really endearing and made me appreciate the stories all the more.

Inevitably with these types of collections, some stories are better than others. Within Flavors, the first and last were my favorites but to be honest I enjoyed all of them. The first, “Unvasion,” had me laughing so much I ended up reading it aloud to my family. Aliens take over Earth not through lasers or bombs, but by acquiring all our businesses- starting with a McDonald’s franchise in Arizona. The theme is brought up again later through the humorously titled, “Pardon Our Conquest,” where we’re the alien invaders, albeit seemingly polite ones.

The final story, “Valentin Sharffen and The Code of Doom” was the longest but also one of the best. We talk a lot about robots gaining sentience, but what would happen if video game characters did as well?

Quite a few were more what I would call speculative fiction, really shining a spotlight on humanity. “Seasonings” was a great example of this: the robot apocalypse taking a more subtle form through the automation of the food industry. Humans are basically dulled into submission through the luxuries of automation as well as through additives the robots have added to the food to make us more complacent. No one much cares though because life is just so easy now, why shake things up? As someone who has an (irrational?) fear of robots, this was far more terrifying than the more violent uprisings we see in the movies.

Flavors of Other Worlds was released last month, but I only got my hands on it a few days ago. It’s a quick and ridiculously fun read. Despite their length, the stories were all very detailed and immersive, aided by the brief introductions the author had for each one. Even if you aren’t that big of a science fiction enthusiast, the stories are clever enough that I think they would appeal to a wider audience. I’m really glad that I finally read something by Alan Dean Foster and if these stories are anything to go by, I’ve really been missing out.



2 thoughts on “The Flavors of Other Worlds: 13 Science Fiction Tales from a Master Storyteller by Alan Dean Foster”

  1. I’ve also been enjoying short fiction much more this year. N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? Is absolutely phenomenal. And Strange Weather is one of my favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

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