Review: API Anthology, Volume 1

By J. Keith Haney

Lasanta, Eloy. API Anthology, Volume 1. Third Eye Games, 2010. USD $3.99 (e-book)/ print (9.99).

I am a sucker for anthologies. That’s been true ever since my dear departed grandmother got me my first two short story collections, Tales From The Darkside, Vol. 1 and Magic at Ithkar Fair, Vol. 2, for Christmas. The whole idea of a book with short stories organized around one central idea was exciting to my young mind. It was like facets of a diamond, the same basic concept but so many different angles to it. You never knew what you were getting next with so many different authors involved.

Of course, another thing I’ve had to find out the hard way is that not all anthologies are created equal. Even the best of them tend to have a few stories that are bad. But API Anthology, Volume 1 has made a fashion statement in bad storytelling.

The collection centers on an organization called ‘Apocalypse Prevention Inc.’, which functions like a cross between the Men In Black and Hellboy’s Bureau For Paranormal Research and Defense. Most of its members are supernatural beings (ghosts, vampires, werewolves), with a smattering of humans thrown in. Their goal is pretty much spelled out in the name, along with policing all supernatural activity on a local level. It is a good, workable concept which could have made great stories…so, what happened?

It is a remarkably small anthology: nine stories with an average of ten pages a piece. But the ineptness on display in almost every story makes it feel so much longer. The most consistent distraction is the sloppy editing throughout the text. Inappropriate capitalization, misspellings, missing punctuations, run-on sentences…it’s like every mistake your English teacher ever corrected you on was put on the printed page.

This would matter less if the stories were anything to write home about. The opening piece, “Jezebel Sly, Private Investigator”, is an ominous portent of things to come. It follows a rather surly, unlikable, downright whiny female PI on a missing persons case involving a vampire that turns out to be so much more. For all the narrator’s complaints about Sam Spade-style mysteries, this is just a bad copy of the more superior original product. Andrew Vachss had a term for such stories which applies here – “worm noir”.

Most of the rest of the collection ranges from passable (“Failure To Communicate”, “The Difference A Day Makes”, “Back For Seconds” ) to predictable (“Fish On Dry Land”, “The Pact”) to utterly pointless (“Girl Trouble”, “Shut Up and Fish!”). The only real standout (and decent story) in this collection is “Loch, Stock, and Barrel” by Clint Black. It tells of a female secret agent (a Loch, an amphibious fish creature much like Lovecraft’s Deep Ones) and a human accountant (named ‘Barrel’), who investigate a Japanese corporation for a possible mole (which contributes to the Stock of the title).

This diamond in the rough underscores the anthology’s larger tragedy. If every story had been given this sort of thought and work, it would have been so much better. However, it is with great reluctance that I must pronounce API Volume 1 a waste of time and money. Anyone who enjoys reading in general and anthologies in particular needs to do better than this.

API Anthology, Volume 1 is available online