Great Themed Anthology
Challenge Accepted is a refreshingly wonderful anthology edited by Stephanie Barr. This is a themed anthology where all of the stories have a main character has a disability and they have to solve problems without some gimmick or other (able-body) person fixing the problem for them. Stephanie has done a great job of collecting these stories and making them available.
As with most anthologies that I read there are some stories within Challenge Accepted that I really loved, some that were good, and some that I found to be just okay. That's the nature of an anthology, it collects many different voices into one place, and even with the "just okay" stories, I was happy that I had a chance to read them. Every story in the anthology deserves to be here and deserves to be read, but here are the ones that stood out to me.
"The Waters of Callisto" by J.A. Busick is the first story in the anthology and was a great one to lead off the book. The main character, Amani, is a paraplegic, and must overcome not only bigotry and bullying, but physical challenges as well on a space station. Amani faces these challenges with grit and determination, and I really love her attitude and the creative ways she refuses to let obstacles stand in her way.
"The Dominant Hand" by Lynne Stringer is great story that shows not only how one individual can overcome a disability, but how narrow thinking among a larger group of people can lead to its own handicap. Silny is a great character filled with doubts, but also a determination to not let her disability hold her back. I liked the way that Lynne has Silny overcome her disability and use it to show how the status quo and the "we've always done it that way" attitude is its own form of disability.
"These Were the Things That Bounded Me" by Misha Burnett is a fantastic story about a post-apocalyptic world where one disabled man must adjust to a world that is no longer filled with the aids he has come to depend on. Mark is a character who must use is intellect and determination to meet the challenge faced when a pandemic wipes out nearly everybody else in town. I really liked how Mark thinks through the challenges and how to overcome them.
"Inferno of Guilt" by Steve Curry is a story that stood out to me because the main character, Angie's, disability is both physical and psychological as she has PTSD. Steve does a great job of addressing both types of disabilities and showing us not only how Angie suffers from them, especially the PTSD, but how she overcomes them. The fiery antagonist was also very cool. (No pun intended.)
"Angel in Darkness" by Clarence Jennelle was a fun story that explored a familiar trope (the blind person using extrasensory perception to become a fighter - there were a few stories like this in the anthology). Bryce was blinded in a scientific experiment and gained extrasensory abilities, plus another power. Yes, this is a trope that's been done before but what stood out to me was the depth of the character in Bryce. She was strong and willing to use her ability to help others - not reluctantly (as is sometimes the case) - but willingly. Plus, the description of the fight was great.
"Negotiating with Spectres" by Margaret A. Treiber stood out to me because it was the only story that focused on a mental disability for the main character as opposed to a physical one. Gina, the main character has Schizophrenia, and the way the Margaret writes about the way this illness affects a person was well done. Gina is a PI, and how she acknowledges and overcomes the illness was creative and entertaining. Plus, Gina was a kick ass character and fun to read.
Overall, Challenge Accepted is a great collection of stories filled with some amazing stories by some of the best indie authors I've come across recently. There are stories here that will appeal to a wide range of readers, and something for fans of nearly every genre. Plus, it doesn't hurt that getting your own copy helps support Special Olympics.