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HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects

by John Joseph Adams (Editor)

Other authors: Bradley Beaulieu (Contributor), Veronica Belmont (Contributor), Brooke Bolander (Contributor), Maurice Broaddus (Contributor), Tobias S. Buckell (Contributor)29 more, Harry Connolly (Contributor), Monte Cook (Contributor), Matt Forbeck (Contributor), Derek Van Gorder (Contributor), Jason Gurley (Contributor), Jonathan L. Howard (Contributor), Kat Howard (Contributor), Vylar Kaftan (Contributor), Keffy R. M. Kehrli (Contributor), Jake Kerr (Contributor), Mary Robinette Kowal (Contributor), Mur Lafferty (Contributor), David D. Levine (Contributor), Heather Lindsley (Contributor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contributor), David Malki ! (Contributor), Seanan McGuire (Contributor), Samuel Peralta (Contributor), Tim Pratt (Contributor), Shannon Prickett (Contributor), Andrew Penn Romine (Contributor), Scott Sigler (Contributor), Michael J. Sullivan (Contributor), Jeremiah Tolbert (Contributor), Genevieve Valentine (Contributor), Chuck Wendig (Contributor), Matt Williamson (Contributor), Daniel H. Wilson (Contributor), Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Contributor)

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TL;DR version: Read the stories by Connolly, Cook, Williamson, Penn Romine, Sullivan, Levine, Broaddus, Wrigley, Bolander, and McGuire. SKIP the ones by Tolbert, Pratt, and Howard and your life will be better for it. For the rest, your mileage may vary depending on your own personal obsessions and expectations. Overall, though those ten stories that make the must read cut are well worth the $5 for this collection.

Full review: Short story is a difficult art. To paint a world and its characters and deliver the actual story in just a few pages is, to me at least, perhaps the height of the storyteller's art. The trick in this anthology is to restrain the form of the story to a Kickstarter proposal (along with comments from the denizens of the Internet and updates from the creator as appropriate. (Some of the proposals are only proposals and some are fully funded with updates from their aftermath.) This is like haiku, the required form either pushing the authors to achieve more with less. Of course, like bad haiku, when these stories fail, they all run together into a blur with nothing to distinguish them. This is made more noticeable by the fact that the form seems to have suggested a number of very similar themes to the authors.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! by [a:Keffy R.M. Kehrli|4133755|Keffy R.M. Kehrli|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1425413428p2/4133755.jpg]★★★☆☆. This is the story that sparked the anthology, so the innovation here is the form itself. (I bumped it up a star.) Otherwise, meh.

FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY by [a:Jeremiah Tolbert|1916425|Jeremiah Tolbert|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/m_50x66-82093808bca726cb3249a493fbd3bd0f.png]★☆☆☆☆ Story about avoiding spoilers contains a major spoiler for the movie Serenity. Ironic! NO actually. Annoying. Don't read this one. (Even if you've seen Serenity, the story is pure meh.)

ZERO G R&J by [a:Mary Robinette Kowal|2868678|Mary Robinette Kowal|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1365253716p2/2868678.jpg] ★★★☆☆ The story is the battle to get [b:Romeo and Juliet|18135|Romeo and Juliet|William Shakespeare|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327872146s/18135.jpg|3349450] (in space! with puppets!) funded. I was so ready to call this two stars, but it actually did make me laugh.

A MEMORIAL TO THE PATRIOTS by [a:Jake Kerr|4648176|Jake Kerr|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1414214080p2/4648176.jpg] ★★★☆☆ There is the germ of a really good story here, but the constraints of the form got to this one. I never really had that "Aha!" moment that made clear what actually happened, and the confusion wasn't necessarily good. But, fog of war, and all that. USA post terror attack with a funding drive that may or may not be related.

I WANT TO BE A LIONESS by [a:Chuck Wendig|17152|Chuck Wendig|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1294919586p2/17152.jpg] ★★★★☆ A mother, her revenge, and the aftermath.

LIBERTY:SEEKING SUPPORT FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS FOR A NON-HUMAN BEING by [a:Samuel Peralta|4210465|Samuel Peralta|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★★★★. It is a little heavy handed on the last line, but this is the first story in the anthology that spoke poetry to me. An android needs help.

HELP SUMMON THE MOST HOLY FOLDED ONE! by [a:Harry Connolly|89973|Harry Connolly|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1252023000p2/89973.jpg] ★★★★☆. Cthulhu via taco truck. Fun.

FULFILL MY DESTINY - AND SAVE THE WORLD! by [a:Matt Forbeck|9505|Matt Forbeck|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1269284918p2/9505.jpg] ★★☆☆☆ The first of three timetravel stories herein. Meh.

LARPING THE APOCALYPSE 2: THE NANO-PLAGUE by [a:Tim Pratt|121364|Tim Pratt|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1312310991p2/121364.jpg] ★☆☆☆☆. Revenge of the geeks, apocalypse style. Annoying due to failed attempt to grapple with sexism in the gamer community.

FUND TAPHOGNOSIS INDUSTRIES by [a:Tobias S. Buckell|107891|Tobias S. Buckell|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1370963821p2/107891.jpg] ★★★☆☆ Successfully funded virtual mind upload and its aftermath. (I almost forgot about it as soon as I read it, but rereading it it was fine. YMMV.)

CATASSASSINS! by [a:Veronica Belmont|8121761|Veronica Belmont|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1404331277p2/8121761.jpg] ★★★☆☆ See title. Kind of meh, but even more that the taco truck story succeeds in suggesting people ought to be careful what they fund, for their own personal safety.

FINDER OF LOST THINGS by [a:Monte Cook|16208|Monte Cook|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1238608816p2/16208.jpg] ★★★★★ Now here is a geek story done right. Charming, touching, and beautiful.

PRIMA NOCTA DETECTIVE AGENCY NEEDS YOU by [a:Genevieve Valentine|3400079|Genevieve Valentine|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1360060998p2/3400079.jpg] ★☆☆☆☆ I actually had to reread this one to remember it and the reread did not help. The first of three vampire related fund drives.

SO JUICY TRANSFORMING STRIPS by [a:Matt Williamson|4782249|Matt Williamson|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★★★☆ What the hell was that? I still don't even know. Medical issues following worldwide environmental crisis? Some kind of zombie story? Just read this.

THE SPIRIT OF MARS: FUND A SACRED JOURNEY TO THE RED PLANET by [a:Andrew Penn Romine|4446686|Andrew Penn Romine|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★★★☆ Another WTH? story, this time on a pilgrimage to Mars. Shaky on the take off, great on the end.

FLASHED FORWARD by [a:Bradley Beaulieu|14025548|Bradley Beaulieu|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★★★☆ Beautiful time travel story.

HELP ME FOLLOW MY SISTER INTO THE LAND OF THE DEAD by [a:Carmen Maria Machado|6860265|Carmen Maria Machado|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1376418795p2/6860265.jpg] ★★★★★ See title. Maybe the best story in the anthology. Well worth the read.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR by [a:Michael J Sullivan|14137801|Michael J Sullivan|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★★★★ Awesome continuation of [b:The Monkey's Paw|351064|The Monkey's Paw|W.W. Jacobs|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1297721168s/351064.jpg|3275269].

A PRACTICAL MECHANISM FOR OVERCOMING THE DIRECTIONALITY OF TEMPORAL FLOW by David D. Levine ★★★★★ The aftermath of a successfully funded time travel project. The story depends on the shifting details of the fund drive (which first seem like typos) to unfold the story. Very nicely done.

LIFE-SIZED ARENA TETRIS! by [a:David Malki !|13648054|David Malki !|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★☆☆☆ More geek angst, but pointless this time.

ZIPPERS by [a:Derek Van Gorder|8264692|Derek Van Gorder|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★☆☆☆ Mind control via Internet, with kitten pictures, but otherwise meh.

I USED TO LOVE H.E.R. by [a:Maurice Broaddus|1419586|Maurice Broaddus|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1221126216p2/1419586.jpg] ★★★★★ [b:Frankenstein|18490|Frankenstein|Mary Shelley|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1381512375s/18490.jpg|4836639] from the perspective of a black lesbian scientist. Set in 2005, prior to Kickstarter, so it plays out in the newspaper. Loved. Gut punch of an ending, though.

LOCALLY GROWN, ORGANIC by [a:Kat Howard|4098207|Kat Howard|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/f_50x66-6a03a5c12233c941481992b82eea8d23.png] ★☆☆☆☆ If I could give this negative stars I would. Elitist, sexist attempt to recreate [b:A Modest Proposal|5206937|A Modest Proposal|Jonathan Swift|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348659670s/5206937.jpg|6627040]. Stick with Swift.

LET'S KEEP BURT GRIMSBY'S HEAD FROZEN! by [a:Heather Lindsley|3337132|Heather Lindsley|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/f_50x66-6a03a5c12233c941481992b82eea8d23.png] ★★☆☆☆ Pointless. And I hate Disney most days, so that's not the issue.

JEROME 3.0 by [a:Jason Gurley|6904187|Jason Gurley|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1435178484p2/6904187.jpg] ★★★☆☆ Second "bring back a dead love" story in the collection. Doesn't work nearly as well. But it does also deal with the subject of Internet fame, also not with great impact, but it does OK. (I'm rounding up out of pity, I guess. Broaddus is a hard act to follow.)

HELP ME DESTROY CANNES! by [a:Jonathan L. Howard|1488908|Jonathan L. Howard|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1298173761p2/1488908.jpg] ★★☆☆☆ Destroying Cannes maybe sounds like fun, but super meh story.

SAVE THE PHOTOPHOBIC HEMOGLOBIVORES WITH THE SANGUINE RESERVE! by [a:Mur Lafferty|97284|Mur Lafferty|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1314461906p2/97284.jpg] ★★☆☆☆ Vampires manipulating folks, as they do. Meh.

NOSFERATU, BRUTUS? by [a:Scott Sigler|114504|Scott Sigler|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1434042056p2/114504.jpg] ★★★☆☆ Why are vampires so hard to do in this format? Destroying the sparkly ones sounds great to me, so this should have been a lot of fun, but the project fails to fund so we don't get any aftermath. The writing is solid. I'm rounding up. I may check out Sigler's books.

UPDATES by [a:Vylar Kaftan|2915792|Vylar Kaftan|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1413144896p2/2915792.jpg] and [a:Shannon Prickett|8345521|Shannon Prickett|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] ★★☆☆☆ The stupid of the masses is a popular theme in this collection, but this is giant meh.

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE by [a:Sylvia Spruck Wrigley|5376501|Sylvia Spruck Wrigley|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1438115782p2/5376501.jpg] ★★★★☆ Second space journey, better stupid of the masses. I kind of though meh when I first read it, but it has grown on me.

MECHANICAL ANIMALS by [a:Brooke Bolander|6889348|Brooke Bolander|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/f_50x66-6a03a5c12233c941481992b82eea8d23.png] ★★★★★ I can't classify this one without spoiling it. Being able to deliver this kind of characterization in this short of a story is a kind of magic I wish I could do. Read it.

KISMET(TM) by [a:Daniel H. Wilson|33773|Daniel H. Wilson|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1298332667p2/33773.jpg] ★★☆☆☆ Augmented consciousness. The project is funded, but no updates follow. (Don't you just hate that?) Meh.

BRING ABOUT THE HALLOWEEN ETERNAL!!! by [a:Seanan McGuire|2860219|Seanan McGuire|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1245623198p2/2860219.jpg] ★★★★☆ (Full disclosure, I bought this anthology to feed my addiction to McGuire's short stories.) Best "summon our own destruction" story in the collection, but none of the weight I love this author for to be found here. Still, pure sugar and fun with a side of end of the world, as befits Halloween.

**Original review written 8/8/15, edited 8/12/15 to add, you know, the actual rating, since no stars is not what I was going for here.** ( )
  amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
Hit and miss, like many anthologies, but an enjoyable read all in all. My favourites were the stories by David D. Levine (ingenious) and Bradley Boulieu (heart rending). The format got old quite fast so I think in this case less (i.e., fewer stories) would have been more. However, the stories were short enough so if one didn't do it for me, I hadn't wasted too much time on it. Hm, this doesn't sound like a four-star review, but honestly, I had fun reading it. ( )
  SpookyFM | Jan 18, 2021 |
I wasn't certain if stories based on the Kickstarter crowdsourcing format would be different enough to keep my interest. I was wrong. This was a great set of stories, some funny, some sad. Standouts were stories by Kat Howard, Genevieve Valentine (where she skewers the UF character tropes), and Chuck Wendig (whose story made me weep). ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
Delightfully novel. Reading between the lines of the various comments and updates to discern what's really going on was fun, and the second vampire story was outright hilarious. Thoroughly recommended. ( )
  RevBobMIB | Oct 21, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adams, John JosephEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beaulieu, BradleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belmont, VeronicaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bolander, BrookeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broaddus, MauriceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckell, Tobias S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Connolly, HarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cook, MonteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forbeck, MattContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorder, Derek VanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gurley, JasonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, Jonathan L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, KatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kaftan, VylarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kehrli, Keffy R. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kerr, JakeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kowal, Mary RobinetteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lafferty, MurContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levine, David D.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lindsley, HeatherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Machado, Carmen MariaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Malki !, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGuire, SeananContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peralta, SamuelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratt, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prickett, ShannonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Romine, Andrew PennContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sigler, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, Michael J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolbert, JeremiahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valentine, GenevieveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wendig, ChuckContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williamson, MattContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Daniel H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wrigley, Sylvia SpruckContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Anthology contains:
  • Introduction / John Joseph Adams
  • Formatting Note / John Joseph Adams
  • HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! / Keffy R. M. Kehrli
  • For Entertainment Purposes Only / Jeremiah Tolbert
  • Zero G R&J / Mary Robinette Kowal
  • A Memorial to the Patriots / Jake Kerr
  • I Want to Be a Lioness / Chuck Wendig
  • Liberty: Seeking Support for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being / Samuel Peralta
  • Help Summon the Most Holy Folded One! / Harry Connolly
  • Fulfill My Destiny--and Save the World! / Matt Forbeck
  • LARPing the Apocalypse 2: The Nano-Plague / Tim Pratt
  • Fund Taphognosis Industries / Tobias S. Buckell
  • Catassassins! / Veronica Belmont
  • Finder of Lost Things / Monte Cook
  • Prima Nocta Detective Agency Needs You / Genevieve Valentine
  • So Juicy Transforming Strips / Matt Williamson
  • The Spirit of Mars: Fund a Sacred Journey to the Red Planet / Andrew Penn Romine
  • Flashed Forward / Bradley P. Beaulieu [as by Bradley Beaulieu]
  • Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead / Carmen Maria Machado
  • Be Careful What You Wish For / Michael J. Sullivan
  • A Practical Mechanism for Overcoming the Directionality of Temporal Flow / David D. Levine
  • Life-Sized Arena Tetris! / David Malki !
  • Zippers / Derek Van Gorder
  • I Used to Love H.E.R. / Maurice Broaddus
  • Locally Grown, Organic / Kat Howard
  • Let's Keep Burt Grimsby's Head Frozen! / Heather Lindsley
  • Jerome 3.0 / Jason Gurley
  • Help Me Destroy Cannes! / Jonathan L. Howard
  • Save the Photophobic Hemoglobivores with the Sanguine Reserve! / Mur Lafferty
  • Nosferatu, Brutus? / Scott Sigler
  • Updates / Vylar Kaftan and Shannon Prickett
  • You Only Live Once / Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
  • Mechanical Animals / Brooke Bolander
  • Kismetâ„¢ / Daniel H. Wilson
  • Bring About the Halloween Eternal!!! / Seanan McGuire
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Editors
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