Domains of Darkover (The Friends of Darkover Present)

Domains of Darkover - Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dorothy J. Heydt, Elisabeth Waters, Joan Marie Verba, Janet Rhodes, Deborah Wheeler, Mercedes Lackey, Lynne Armstrong-Jones, Judith Kobylecky, L.D. Woeltjen, Meg MacDonald, Mary Frey, Barbara Denz, Diann Patridge, Micole Sudberg, Judith Sampson, Cy Marion Zimmer Bradley is famous for her Avalon books, but I'm a fan of her Darkover stories, set in an original world and a blend of science fiction and fantasy. This is one of a series of anthologies that basically are collection of "fan fiction" by other authors based on MZB's Darkover. I was impressed on reread of the first such book, The Keeper's Price. Enough I ranked it just below five stars, and was tempted to give it full marks. Not that I would argue it's deathless literature, but as a Darkover fan I loved it, and was surprised how memorable the various stories were even decades after I first read it--there were some I remembered just from the title, and no story I didn't completely enjoy. The next four collections, The Sword of Chaos, Free Amazons of Darkover, Red Sun of Darkoer, and Four Moons of Darkover, though still enjoyable, didn't impress nearly me as much. The next, The Other Side of the Mirror, represented an uptick, but it was unusual in being a collection of novellas, not short stories, including one almost a novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I'm afraid I feel Domains of Darkover is back to routine. The first collection seemed mostly taken from a contest, and perhaps that pushed the quality up. So many in the contents page of the next four anthologies seemed the usual suspects, with the majority of stories included by authors who appeared in previous MZB anthologies. With this one, not only didn't I remember any of these stories from my read years before, it was hard to remember the stories I read early on by the time I finished rereading this book. And there were a few I out and out disliked. Not good. I did like Dorothy J. Heydt's "Death in Thendara" which featured recurring characters from her previous stories in Darkover anthologies. Similarly it was nice reading a new Hilary story from Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elizabeth Waters, "Firetrap." And it was interesting reading a fairly early story from an author who'd become a favorite, Mercedes Lackey. Otherwise, I did (rather mildly) enjoy most of the stories--but certainly wouldn't recommend this for someone not already a die hard Darkover fan.