The short story anthology Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis, the second and last collection of the Tales from the Eternal Archives, contains thirteen stories of varying quality loosely connected to one another through the titular mystical library. But unlike the first collection all thirteen stories were all fantasy genre.
The best story of the collection was “Strange Creatures” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which followed Chief Dan Retsler investigating the latest in a series of animal mutilations but suddenly finds out that the latest animal might be linked to mythical “selkies”. The next two best stories were “How Golf Shaped Scotland” by Bruce Holland Rogers, a fun and good natured short story about how a game of golf created Scotland’s iconic coastline, and “An Elemental Conversation” by Donald J. Bingle, a conversation between a Reverend and his friend during their weekly chess game about how the news of non-human intelligent life affects religion with a twist ending.
The two worst stories of the collection were “Water Baby” by Michelle West, which followed the life of a young woman who is emotionally connected to the ocean and how it affects her and others, and “Sons of Thunder” by Edward Carmien, in which a djinn recounts his time as a follower of Jehua and how his brother and his tribe converted to the new faith leaving him alone. These were the two “worst” examples of six stories that were not really good even though they had interesting concept, but just bad execution ruined them. An interesting facet was the unevenness of the number of stories for each element covered in the book, with Air only have one while Earth had five and Water had four and Fire starting off the book with three.
The thirteen stories that make up Earth, Air, Fire, Water were a mixed bag of quality from the excellent to downright disappoint, just like every other anthology collection that has been published. However I will be honest in how well I rated this book given how poorly it began and ended.
Individual Story Ratings
Burning Bright by Tanya Huff (2/5)
The Fire of the Found Heart by Linda P. Baker (2/5)
The Forge of Creation by Carrie Channell (2/5)
How Golf Shaped Scotland by Bruce Holland Rogers (4/5)
The Giant’s Love by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (3/5)
Family Secrets by Robyn McGrew (3.5/5)
Dvergertal by Nancy Vivian Berberick (2/5)
An Elemental Conversation by Donald J. Bingle (4/5)
Water Baby by Michelle West (1/5)
Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel (3/5)
Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold (3.5/5)
Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (5/5)
Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien (1/5)