- “The Writers of the Future Contest always finds great stories by the new writers who will be winning Hugo and Nebula awards a few years from now.” – Tim Powers, Author of Anubis Gate
- “Standout stories include [...] Jordan Lapp’s portrayal of the short, fiery life of a phoenix in “After the Final Sunset, Again.”” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
- “I could rave about this story all day long” – Frank Dutkiewicz
L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future: Volume XXV - Previous recipient of the award, K.D. Wentworth (The Course of Empire, Stars Over Stars) returns to edit this top-notch anthology of this year’s winners in the contest’s 25th year. The collection offers a dozen strong stories that range from well-conceived fantasy to classic science fiction reworked. Standout stories include Donald Mead’s touching “The Shadow Man,” with its lingering postwar ghosts in Hiroshima; Matthew S. Rotundo’s exploration of the ethical boundaries of military intelligence in “Gone Black”; and Jordan Lapp’s portrayal of the short, fiery life of a phoenix in “After the Final Sunset, Again.” Other featured writers such as Emery Huang, Fiona Lehn, and Mike Wood depict the rise of mega-corporations with paramilitary patent enforcers, for example; or competition for government financing turned into a dangerous sporting event; and computerized risk management taken to dangerous extremes. Each of the 12 stories is paired with the work of one of the winning illustrators from L. Ron Hubbard’s companion contest. Several essays round out this volume, complimented by noted author and perennial judge Robert Silverberg’s piece on the history of the contest. Always a glimpse of tomorrow’s stars, this year’s anthology is definitely a must-have for the genre reader. (Nov.) - Cevin Bryerman, Publishers Weekly
With another sunrise, the Phoenix is reborn. The fabled bird assumes the form of a human, compelled to make the world a bit better. As it rises from its ashes, it draws upon the experiences of the people that live in its apartment building so it can form its own personality. At the moment of her rebirth, the man in an adjoining apartment dies. Feeling deaths touch has left the Phoenix in fear. Keenly aware that her time is short, she takes extraordinary steps to lengthen her life.
After the Final Sunset, Again takes an old idea and made it original. We get a clear view of a being that is meant to live a life that spans hours and is supposed to accomplish more than what mere humans can do in years. The Phoenix’s unfortunate experience of feeling another’s death has scarred her and gives her a perspective about life any person could sympathize with. For one who is supposed to die at sunset, it inhibits her destiny. Although the majority of the story centers around one character, the addition of Father Baytilus helped bring the message of the piece out. He is the “guardian angel for (mankinds) guardian angel”.
I could rave about this story all day. Mr Lapp has tapped into what makes the Sci-fi and fantasy genre great, delving into a deeper meaning of man through a character that isn’t human. I found this story unique, gripping, compelling, and moving. From the title to the ending I could find no fault with it. Grade A+ – Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots
Asimov’s Forum – John E. Rogers
This Gaimanized theofantasy blazes along at the speed of a wildfire, slowing only when the flames of the story are cooled by the unnatural, though clever, extension of the main character’s life. The tale is advanced greatly by the author’s decision not to backfill. Let the readers add the remaining pieces of the puzzle as they see fit. We start with the raging coalescence of an actual Phoenix – a female, in human guise – swirling into being out of raw background elements – in an empty apartment somewhere in an unnamed American city. This creature, we learn, is designed to live but a day – self-incinerating at sunset, to be born afresh the next morning, with no recollection of her past deeds or fiery demise. Her mission is to proceed immediately into the bowels of the city, save as many people as she can from accidental death, and take other life-improving steps for mankind. To make her way in the world, the Phoenix borrows memories and life lessons from the minds of the (mostly) unsuspecting tenants in the neighoring flats.
However, after millennia of uninterrupted 24 hour cycles of birth-service-death, something unusual happens to our particular Phoenix. During her birth. she encounters another supernatural force and – for the first time – begins to resent her accelerated mortality. What she does to stave it off is the meat of the tale.
A real standout.
From the fantasy quarter, I give the top nod to Lapp’s “After the Final Sunset, Again.” Like Linnaea’s story, this one dared to reach further, take more chances.
The Future Digital Life
…for those readers that enjoy reading speculative fiction short stories, the anthology is a must read each year. I still get goosebumps when I reread Jordan Lapp’s After the Final Sunset, Again. - Thomas K. Carpenter, The Future Digital Life