INHERIT THE EARTH (A HUNTER: THE RECKONING NOVEL)

Edited by Stewart Wieck

White Wolf Publishing / 288 pages / (July 9, 2001)

ISBN: 1565048393

The only impression some readers have of role-playing games is closed rooms at SF conventions and the unwashed participants who emerge at the end of the con to wander back home. Okay, there is some truth to that, but through Inherit The Earth you will learn that there is so much more. The entries in this Hunter: The Reckoning anthology stand up to some of the best fiction being produced today. Remember, it all springs from a strong, solid story with endless possibilities.

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For me, it was the name Stefan Petrucha on the table of contents that was the primary attraction to this collection. Petrucha’s “The Treatment of Dr. Eberhardt” more than lives up to expectations, but it is only the first in an impressive parade of loosely linked short stories. A tale of creepy obsession and ruthless protection, it is the perfect introductory piece, setting the dark, harrowing tone for the rest of the volume. Childhood, like innocence, is a luxury no one can afford in the world of Hunter.

Inside the covers of Inherit The Earth, the world is divided into three groups: the Undead, the imbued Hunters, and everything else is… prey.

“Credo” by Eric Griffin puts more of a techno-spin on the subject, allowing readers to infer the action only through the narrow windows of emails, in an exchange where good and bad are far from obvious distinctions. James Stewart’s short, brutal “The Names of The Dead” examines what one mass murderer referred to as “collateral damage” and its place in the new world order.

Two stories reflect on the past’s undying influence on the present and the unthinkable future. “Closure,” Andrew Bates’ contribution, takes a look at some very human emotions that survive the boundaries of death and undeath. And trust David Niall Wilson to breathe life into a grim tale of a twisted love through the dusty pages of history and to propose a new union in its place.

The lethal nature of this final war is brought home in the grisly “Antibodies” by Michael Lee, Richard Lee Byer’s locked-room “Unusual Suspects,” and Dominic Von Riedemann’s “Lucimal’s Heart.” The last is not suggested for the weak of stomach, by the way. But, it is the aptly titled “The Frailty of Humans” that exposes the raw nerves of the battle and the true toll of suffering. Gherbod Fleming’s moving story is a quiet, sorrowful silence in the fury of the storm.

Often, it is difficult to detect the hand of the editor in the finished product, but it is unlikely Inherit The Earth would have the come out to be the seamless showpiece it is without strong direction. Each of the stories adds to the whole, but still stands on its own. For selecting, shaping, and guiding these stories, Wieck, well done. Very well done.