John Ruch at Paste Magazine did a very nice interview and review of UNFETTERED, Shawn Speakman’s standout anthology.
“If Unfettered arrived simply as a fantasy fiction anthology, it would be praiseworthy enough simply for living up to its title—these stories really do unchain our minds from the dreary mundane. The two-dozen tales include fresh offerings from such superstars as Terry Brooks and gems from emerging fantasy authors. It’s a treasure chest for any genre fan.
But Unfettered also happens to be a fundraising project. It marks the start of an extraordinary effort to unshackle authors and artists from medical bills that ruin lives and careers.
The authors of the stories collected here all donated their stories for free to create a book that could cover a $200,000 medical bill—the fee left to their friend and the book’s editor, fantasy author Shawn Speakman, after he beat cancer. Speakman now plans a nonprofit to be funded by an annual anthology like Unfettered. The anthology will offer similar help to ill artists not lucky enough to have such famous friends.
The jacket art of Unfettered depicts Speakman as a cowled prisoner, surrounded by dragons and demons. He breaks his chains in a dramatic sine curve. And so it should be—his own story reads like an adventure tale.
“The American health care system has a big hole in it,” Speakman warns in a phone interview from his Seattle home, explaining how it often leaves self-employed authors and artists with inadequate health insurance…if they can get any at all.
“Somebody should never have to worry about health payments when they’re fighting for their life.”’
“As often proves the case with anthologies, however, the biggest names didn’t turn in the best work. Browsing rewards a reader with new friends…
Todd Lockwood, who contributed a story as well as the book’s ceaselessly handsome illustrations, establishes himself as the collection’s major discovery.
Already famed as an artist for Dungeons & Dragons game materials, Magic cards, and Salvatore’s book jackets, Lockwood can also write. He had a rollicking adventure tale in last year’s Kickstarter-funded anthology Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and here he proves adept in a totally different mode with his haunting ghost story “Keeper of Memory.” Now working on his debut novel, Lockwood looks to be a rising star fans should read here first.”
What can I say. John Ruch has great taste.
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