The Benevolence Archives, a collection of short stories, is fun without being goofy, and action-filled without being a lot of pointless noise and commotion. The main characters are relatable — no mean feat, considering that they’re a gnome and a half-ogre. (Yes, this is science fiction, not fantasy, but there are gnomes and dwarves and ogres and trolls and elves in it along with humans. Get used to the concept.) The writing itself is crisp and clean and not at all clunky (and look — correct grammar and punctuation!), making these stories even more of a pleasure to read.
According to the author, The Benevolence Archives was strongly inspired by Star Wars. Y’know, I’m quite familiar with all 3 Star Wars movies (no, that is not a typo), and even when looking for the fannish references, I couldn’t really see them except in things like the title of the first story in the collection, “The Planet It’s Farthest From.” Or a bit of dialogue in another story, when a character says (at an appropriate moment), “That’s no moon.” You’ll find no cheap imitations of Star Wars characters, or rehashes of plots, in these stories. This, friends, is the right way to do “fan fiction”: Look at what is inspiring in the original, think about why it inspires you (in the case of The Benevolence Archives, the author said it was something like “What if Star Wars had been about Han and Chewie instead of Luke? What if Luke had been just a job, and Han hadn’t come back at the Battle of Yavin?”), and then go forth and write your own stories with your own characters and your own settings and your own plots… That’s exactly what Luther M. Siler has done, and the result is a good story with interesting characters and an intriguing setting. I’m looking forward to the next adventures of Brazel and Grond.