Lawyers in Hell – Book Review Part 2

 

Lawyers in Hell – Book Review Part 2

I’m going to continue with the second and final part of the Lawyers in Hell Book Review, but first, there are a couple of things that I need to tell you about. This is not a normal book review. In a normal book review, the reviewer reads the book without any contact with the writer, or in the case of an anthology, the writers.

As I said, this is not a normal book review. Remember the first Gulf War, how embedded journalists were used with the armed forces? Would you believe an embedded reviewer?

Seriously. I’ve spent the last month working inside of the project with the writers and editors, learning how they put together the books. It’s a fascinating process (and no, I can’t tell you the details – part of the deal is that I won’t talk about some things). I’ve met some really neat and talented people. In some cases I’ve been able to help out a bit. If you do a whois on JanetMorrisandChrisMorris.Com you’ll notice the odd coincidence that the website is registered in my name, and the same is true of JanetMorrisandChrisMorris.ca and JanetMorris.ca (we couldn’t get JanetMorris.com unfortunately).

It’s been a fun experience, and I’ve been invited to stick around, and continue to watch what happens as the next books in the series come out. After Lawyers will come Adventurers in Hell, Visionaries in Hell, and Swashbucklers in Hell. There is a novel in the works, the publication date has not been finalized yet, but will be in the first half of 2012.

Onto the Reviews!

And Injustice For All

by Jason Cordova is about the dangers of asking for what you deserve. Especially when your name is Marie Antoinette, and you are possibly just a bit spoiled. Just a bit.

Measure of a Man

by Deborah Koren features a lawyer named Alan Bensinger who wakes up to meet William Barclay Masterson aka Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. And then things get really complicated…

The Adjudication of Hetty Green

by Allan F. Gillbreath is about a lawyer who is responsible for adjudicating new inhabitants of Hell. Because some cases are especially complex, and the case of Hetty Green is one of those that is. It seems that every department of Hell wants a piece of her soul, and it’s his responsibility to decide whether she belongs to any of them.

Plains of Hell

by Bruce Durham stars two major Canadian historical figures, General James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who re-fight their famous battle on the Plains of Abraham in Hell on the Plains of Hell.

The Register

by Michael H. Hanson where we learn that even in Hell, honesty has its uses. Of course the people on the other side may be less than happy about your choice of weapons…

Island out of Time

by Richard Groller involves a special forces team checking out a very odd island. Pythagoras and Harry Houdini make up part of the team,

Appellate Angel

by Edward McKeown is about a court case. Huemac the Aztec Priest is seeking remission of his sentence in hell for being an Aztec Priest, the duties of which involved tearing the hearts out of sacrifices. The lawyers have to argue both sides of the case. Is Huemac guilty of anything more than following orders?

With Enemies Like These

by David L. Burkhead. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. tries to kidnap Lieutenant Colonel William Dunlap Simpson. The attempt fails, something goes really badly wrong, and both men end up in an afterlife that they’ve never seen before.

The Dark Arts

by Kimberly Richardson where Clarence Darrow represents a truly unusual client.

Heads You Loose

by Michael Z. Williamson. In this interesting little story we follow the Coordinating Legal Airborne Platoon (CLAP) as it makes a paratroop drop over Kabum, Ashcanistan, where the inhabitants don’t like lawyers in death any more than they had in life, and try to show their appreciation in the time-honored way – by shooting back.

Check and Mate

by Bradley H. Sinor, in which John Adams defends Aleister Crowley on a charge of cheating at chess.

Disclaimer

by John Manning in which Monty, a new lawyer in Hell, gets his first assignment, and it’s not what he was expecting.

Orientation Day

by Sarah Hulcy in which we meet the Chief Librarian of Hell’s Law Library, and get to see a class of new lawyers taken through Orientation.

Remember, Remember, Hell in November

by Larry Atchley, Jr. stars one of England’s most iconic figures, Guido “Guy” Fawkes. Guy is quite certain that his being in Hell is a mistake, after all, he did everything for the church…

Theo Khthonios

by Scott Oden stars one of the greatest warriors of all time, Leonidas and the men who died with him.

Erra and the Seven

by Chris Morris in which Lysicles once again meets Erra, and in which Eshi asks a question.

And that is the last story in this volume, at which point we have to ask:

What is Hell?

Most Fantasies involve heroism. Hell is different. If a soul has made its way to hell, that soul has already lost. Thus most stories are about loosing, or about loosing gracefully.

In very few of the stories does the protagonist “win” in a classical way. This might make the stories seem brutal, or sad, but they aren’t. That is one of the challenges of writing for the Hell Shared World Anthology, of finding a way of making a loss into a win.

You take characters. You give the characters choices. The choices involve good and evil, honesty and treachery, winning and loosing. The choices will affect the characters, because these characters are continuing characters.

I have beside me “Heroes in Hell” the first volume in the series, and I’m looking at the Contents page. Seven stories, four of the writers are represented in “Lawyers in Hell”, writing about the same characters a quarter century later. Take “A Walk In The Park” by Nancy Asire, which stars Napoleon Bonaparte and The Duke of Wellington meeting in Hell for the first time. By the time we get to “Tale of a Tail” the two of them have become much like Oscar and Felix in the Odd Couple.

And we’ve got C. J. Cherryh’s “The Prince”, in which we are introduced to the Julian household, and it’s hangers-on, which include Dante Alighieri and Nicollo Machiavelli. The stars of the show of course are Gaius Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Hatshepsut, Sargon of Akkad, and Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, all of which are still with us a quarter century later in “Out of Court Settlement”, though there have been changes in the relationships between the characters.

Some of the characters in Lawyers are new characters. Some are old friends. Some, well, we aren’t sure what the Viet Cong in DeCentral Park are, and it looks like they aren’t sure what they are either.

It’s been great to see the series renewed, and to see it pick up where it left off, not as a rebang. With Digital Publishing I think that Lawyers in Hell will probably be the most popular book in the series, because it will be able to reach an audience who would have never been able to find it before.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday June 28, 2011

 

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4 thoughts on “Lawyers in Hell – Book Review Part 2

  1. Wayne,
    Thank you for your perceptive and balanced view of Lawyers in Hell.  Thank you even more for putting Lawyers in Hell in perspective in terms of the original series.  For an editor, it’s always comforting when someone of your stature gets the point and delivers insights useful to writer and reader alike.  JEM

    1. You don’t know how much fun it’s been to be able to look at it both from a historical point of view (copy of the first printing of Heroes in Hell – March 1986 is sitting beside me), and also from the inside, which I believe has never been done for a review of a Shared World Anthology before.

      It has been a lot of fun, it really has, never mind that I got to read it before everyone else did 🙂

      Wayne

    1. Go ahead. I sent links to where they could buy the book to the Lawyers who work for the Canadian Recording Industry Association. I didn’t hear back from them, so I don’t know if they bought it. I also sent them links to the video.

      One of them at least as a sense of humor, and probably got a good laugh out of it. The other two are probably furious with me, but them they’ve been furious with me for the last couple of years.

      Wayne

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