After Hours - Tales from Ur-Bar

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After Hours - Tales from Ur-Bar

While, like with every anthology, there are some stories that I liked more than others, I really enjoyed the whole read. What I found to my liking about the anthology is that while there are different time periods - and genres - covered is the unifying thread of a time-traveling bar and Gilgamesh - however he is called - that ties everything together.

Would recommend it to others.


"An Alewife in Kish" by Joshua Palmatier - How Gilgamesh wound up with the Ur-Bar thanks to a curse put on its previous owner (Kubaba) by Enlil

"Why the Vikings Had No Bars" by S.C. Butler - Gil gets a little help from Odin, Vikings get introduced to beer at bar as opposed to brewing their own.

"The Emperor's New God" by Jennifer Dunne - Emperor Otto makes a deal with Mars, forsaking his own God, and then reneges on the deal.

"The Tale That Wagged the Dog" by Barbara Ashford - Tam Lin was turned into a Border collie by the Queen of the Faerie and hid Rona's (a selkie) seal skin from her. Will things be able to work out for the two of them?

"Sake and Other Spirits" by Maria V. Snyder - Set in Samurai-era Japan, the tale is one of Azami, a bargirl and accounts keeper for this incarnation of the Ur-Bar, and of merchants beset by a water vampire. Azami sets out to see what she can do about the "problem" with a little aid from Gilgamesh and finds help from an unexpected source who isn't put off by her hidden skills.

"The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will" by K.L. Maund - Set in France at a time when quite a few nobles seek astrological help while the King sets about getting rid of them, the Fortune-Teller of this tale is a young girl who is put in prison. The maid of one of the fortune-teller's clients helps her out via the barkeep that sits next to her other place of work (a publication that publishes her satires).

"The Tavern Fire" by David B. Coe - An alternate take on a fire that started in a Boston bar in 1760....a few doors down from The Fat Spider where Janna and Gil are the proprietors.

"Last Call" by Patricia Bray - A tale of George Harker and his work as a hunter of lamias, vampyr, gorgons, and other evils. He meets Gil for the first time in a London coffeehouse after his first job. The next time they meet, George is a much older (both physically and emotionally) man and they meet is in Geneva and trade stories. A party of English tourists sits at a neighboring table, and a "Frau Shelley" listens in, while George finishes up his tale of "resurrectionists".

"The Alchemy of Alcohol" by Seanan McGuire - James Holly, the "Summer King", stops into the bar seeking an alchemist to rouse his wife, Margaret - the "Winter Queen", early as her sister and brother-in-law want to take over the positions. To that end, Margaret's sister and brother-in-law are willing to have Margaret buried early in order for the takeover to happen. Mina Norton is just the person to help them and be able to neutralize Jane's witchcraft and Stuart's alchemy at the same time.

"The Grand Tour" by Juliet E. McKenna - Two people on a grand tour make a wrong turn while on their way to Vienna and get more of an education than they bargained for.

"Paris 24" by Laura Anne Gilman - The "what-might-have-beens" of winning gold for the U.S. fencing team of 1924 or being able to sleep at night?

"Steady Hands and a Heart of Oak" by Ian Tregillis - A member of His Majesty's Royal Engineers has an uncanny knack for always "knowing" how to disarm unexploded bombs. This knack is enhanced for a short while after a round at the Bar and he sees the threads of all the different "could bes" leaving him to choose what will be the best course for all involved.

"Forbidden" by Avery Shade - A newcomer to the time period from a time when "all are one" and no one stands out. She takes a leap into the unknown of "choice" and undertakes a new life.

"Where We Are Is Hell" by Jackie Kessler - A ghost lives through the hell of opening one door after another into darkness. Then, one door opens into the Bar where only Gil is able to see her and talk to her, offering her a choice. "Live" there or open the final door to her final destination.

"Izdu-Bar" by Anton Strout - Bouncer Billy opens the door to "one more" even though the bar is full and he is breaking the rules. Will the newcomer - a musician, which earns him points with Gil - be more than everyone has bargained for? Especially in a world full of zombies..... 

Book Blurb for After Hours - Tales from Ur-Bar

Science fiction and fantasy readers have long shown an affinity for a good "bar story". Now some of today's most inventive scriveners have decided to tell their own tall tales-from an alewife's attempt to transfer the gods' curse to Gilgamesh, to Odin's decision to introduce Vikings to the Ur-Bar, from the Holy Roman Emperor's barroom bargain, to a demon hunter who may just have met his match in the ultimate magic bar, to a bouncer who discovers you should never let anyone in after hours in a world terrorized by zombies.

Night Owl Reviews Mar, 2011 4.50