After Hours:Tales from the Ur-Bar

Edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

 

††††††††† Could a bartender and his drinking establishment have existed through the ages?How could his immortality and the barís powers affect the lives of its patrons?Within this recently published anthology, fifteen science fiction and fantasy writers attempt to answer those questions.

††††††††† A basic premise of the collection is that the proprietor lives forever but can not leave the premises of the bar.This is openly illustrated in the opening story.Cursed by the ancient Sumerian gods, Kubaba will live forever, but even an instant outside her Kish alehouse causes overwhelming spasms of pain.Angry with her lot, can she transfer her immortality and curse to another?

††††††††† For the remainder of the book, Gilgamesh, hero of ancient legends, lives on and on, tending the bar as it manifests itself in different ages and places on earth.He is known by different identities and what was once an alehouse becomes many things with a variety of names.Depending upon the particular story, Gil, as he is often known, may be one of the more central characters and the bar the prime setting for the tale.In others, his role is less pronounced and many of the events take place elsewhere.Throughout, a word from the immortal bartender or a drink of his finest can change the lives of the storyís participants.

††††††††† As with any collection of stories by different authors, readers will find some easier to read, a few more entertaining, and that others provide a unique unimagined twist at the end.Some are fun to read and others provoke a bit of deeper thought.One or two seem to end a little prematurely, as if they should contain one more line, another paragraph, or an additional page.

††††††††† After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar is from DAW Books, Inc.ISBN 978-0-7564-0659-2 was first printed in March 2011 and carries a cover price of $7.99 US.†††††