Spolier Free Summary: Contract Fulfilled by Tim C. Taylor is the sixth story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More. Saisho Branco is in over his head. His day starts off waiting to find out if he’ll be blasted by missiles, and things only get worse from there. He’s stuck with the team he’s on, and Captain Sue Blue and Major Sun Sue seem determined to get him killed. He just has to make it until the end of the contract. But what happens when the contract is fulfilled?
Character: The characters in here are a charming kind of crazy. I like that the crew members of the ship are out-of-the-box thinking and clever. They grow on you as the story progresses. I can’t call them memorable. True, it’s been a good while since I’ve read it, but some characters stick with you. These characters aren’t bad at all; they just don’t stand out against some of the others in this book (see future reviews).
Exposition: This I remember being not just the strong suite of this story but also one of the stronger in the whole book. Taylor doesn’t beat you with history or hidden context, instead he gets to the heart of real action scifi and lets you enjoy the story. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s short fiction. Sure, in longer work, a reader would want context and depth, but in a shorter story, we just want to go for a ride, and Taylor gives us one.
World building: This is another story that I enjoyed for the sake of it. It’s a fun sort of buddy-cop story that has a few charming moments. I think a solid few of the stories in this anthology felt that way, but if you like those kinds of stories, this anthology is for you. The alien races can get a bit deep, but that’s not really a bad thing for a universe as deep as this. It just makes it a bit hard for a person who’s not familiar with it. The benefit of short fiction mentioned in the previous segment is the curse of world building, but I think Taylor made the right choice.
Dialogue: This story has some fun banter that maybe doesn’t have the most wit, but this is where Branco’s arc did the most of the work. Also, where a lot of story hide (badly) some exposition in the dialogue, this isn’t one of them. It’s fun. It got me to chuckle a few times, and it’s where I saw the most of Branco’s growth with the crew.
Description: Any time one feels like a story zipped by means that the author didn’t drag the reader down with details. I can’t claim it was visceral because some of the scenes didn’t stick in my mind (which I mentioned above), but I can say that I churned through this story. This makes me believe it was an intentional choice on the part of Taylor. He gave us everything that let us keep a fast-paced fun story, willingly letting go of the deeper context, which isn’t a bad choice in shorter fiction.
Overall: While I can’t remember the details, I can remember the feeling of this particular story. I had fun with it. Sure, some stories were more powerful, that’s not a knock on a story I read quickly and liked while I read it.