THE FIRST HEROES: NEW TALES OF THE BRONZE AGE
The Bronze Age was an era of discovery, exploration and magic, of Greek heroes and Egyptian pharaohs. It's a natural setting for fantasy adventures, and Turtledove presents 14 tales from some of the best speculative writers around.
Gene Wolfe's "The Lost Pilgrim" is the journal of a time traveler who fails to realize he's hooked up with mythical heroes until it's too late. Judith Tarr tells of a town that sends its resident goddess to discover the secrets of "The God of Chariots." Turtledove's Bronze Age is populated with centaurs. S.M. Stirling contributes a story set in the world of his Nantucket series, where an entire town is transported to 13th-century B.C. Katherine Kerr and Debra Doyle focus on the nearly forgotten lives of Bronze Age women in "The God Voice." Lois Tilton takes on the Trojan War in "The Matter of the Ahhiyans."
All the stories are well above average, and there are several standouts. The gem of the collection is "The Bog Sword" by the late Poul Anderson, in which a modern scholar inhabits the consciousness of a Scandinavian Bronze Age ancestor and witnesses the end of an era.
Ancient history buffs and alternate history fans will love this collection, which offers a unique opportunity to view the past as it might have been. (May, 368 pp., $25.95)
Jen Talley Exum