Life On the Periphery, by Jon Cunningham is a collection of short stories about collateral losses in sword & sorcery, dream quests gone horribly wrong and trips to the barber with a twist.
Life On The Periphery has variety on its side, first and foremost. The author has gone to great lengths to work in some novel concepts on established worlds and ideas, treating the reader to pretty much a look on what it would look like if most fictional badasses tripped and fell on their faces every now and again. Some of his stories (“Zorthrast the Invincible Gets a Haircut” and “Think Of England”) manage to pull it off better than the rest, by contrasting the heroically absurd with the absolutely mundane.
The cover artwork, done by the author, compliments the book’s contents very well and does a great job of bringing the reader into it. Perhaps he should consider doing interior illustrations for his future work as well, provided he can afford the time and energy for it.
The story collection’s weakest link is perhaps its opening story, which is too pessimistic and grim, especially compared to the gradual increase of wonderful strangeness that follows. A couple of other stories are too grounded for their own good and would perhaps work better if they were arranged differently in the volume, but they compliment the theme, nevertheless.
-Wide variety of stories
-Fresh look on the good old stories we’ve known and loved
-Competent artwork by the author
-Some of the stories are too grim for their own good
-Perhaps a different arrangement of the stories in the volume wouldn’t cause so much tonal whiplash