Red Sun of Darkover (Daw UE2330) (Darkover)

Red Sun of Darkover - Marion Zimmer Bradley, Joe Wilcox, Dorothy J. Heydt, Vera Nazarian, Elisabeth Waters, Diana L. Paxson, Deborah Wheeler, Nina Boal, Patricia Shaw Mathews, Patricia Anne Buard, P.J. Buchanan, Mary Fenoglio, Marny Whiteaker, Diann Partridge 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. I was impressed on reread of the first Darkover short story anthology, The Keeper's Price--basically a collection of "fan fiction" by other authors based on MZB's world. 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 two collections, The Sword of Chaos and Free Amazons of Darkover, though still enjoyable, didn't impress me as much. I'm afraid I feel the same about Red Sun of Darkover. 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 three anthologies seemed the usual suspects. Besides two stories from MZB, Diana L. Paxson, Susan M. Shwartz, Elizabeth Waters and Patricia Matthews all appeared in the first two volumes, and Paxson, Waters and Matthews also appear here. I did especially like "Salt," a story by Diann Partridge that seeks to explain why the Aillard Domain is unique in passing through the female line, and MZB said this answer caught her "fancy." I also really enjoyed Patricia Ann Buard's "Devil's Advocate." It reminded me of Blish's A Case of Conscience in its Jesuit protagonist investigating "St Valentine of the Snows." But this is the first Darkover anthology where I actively disliked a couple of stories. According to the introduction by MZB of Patricia Matthews "Coils" the author resisted its inclusion as not really being suitable for Darkover and MZB said she twisted her arm to include it. I'm with Matthews--although an enjoyable story, I can't see it fitting Darkover at all. Finally, I really disliked MZB's own contribution, "The Shadow." I thought the way Regis was pressuring Danilo emotionally to have sex with him, well, wrong and creepy rather than loving. Admittedly, I don't remember feeling that way when I first read this years ago. Still, by and large I think Darkover fans would overall enjoy this anthology.