Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Authentic Rose by Terence Faherty - short story review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

Set in the 1950's. Hollywood Private Investigator Scott Elliot is sent to New Mexico to authenticate a painting purchased by a wealthy client.

Elliot walks into a complex web of emotions, passion and loyalties and in thrown in to a murder investigation along the way.

I found the story well constructed and I especially enjoyed the sense of place it created. I could smell the dust, feel the heat, see the washed out quality to the light under a burning sun and feel the relief of a cool tavern and cold beer.

The author's website is HERE

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Round Trip by Rail by Gwen Davenport - short story review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

I liked this story quite a bit. It had a gentle, light touch that I found easy to read and that I wanted to come back to it each time I put it down.

It's the story of a man stuck in a bad marriage and how he chooses to escape it.

One day he just disappears.

Sadly Gwen Davenport died in 2002

As far as I can tell this story was never collected in book form.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Whatever it Takes by Benjamin M. Schutz - short story review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

The author describes it as "Hardy Boys for the nineties."

And that's a pretty apt feel to the story. Sean and Matthew are a process servers who go about town handing out subpoenas and court summons.

The are pretty good at it too; we get to see all the clever ways they " get their man."

In an effort to make some extra money, the boys are allowed to go through The Icebox; literally a shoe box filled with papers that were never successfully served.

They take on the case of a deadbeat dad who's not paid his child support in years.

It becomes a challenging moral situation for Sean and Matthew - one with a satisfying end.

Sadly the author passed away in 2008

This story was collected in the book Mary, Mary, Shut the Door.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kim Stanley Robinson - short story review

Out Town was a creepy little story that ended with a glimmer of hope.

The art scene is very different in this particular future. Sculpting has changed completely; instead of using clay, or stone, or wood artists are now using humans, grown in vats, and then taught a skill, such as dance.

The artist then "freezes" the subject in a force field and puts it on display.

This stirs up all kinds of ethical subjects and the story is chilling because the attitudes of the characters is opposite to ours today.

I believe that if we could grow humans they would quickly have rights.

Here we meet two artists, one who represents his time and place in the narrative and the other is closer to we readers in the present.

It's a very effective story and I won't spoil it for you by telling you any more. It will stay with you as any great story will.

You can read it HERE

The author's website is HERE

The eZine this story was published in is HERE

PS - I've subscribed to this magazine.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Collusionists by Scott Mackay - short story review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
September/October 2000

This was a satisfying read about a woman who is wrongfully charged with the murder of her husband.  The cast of characters include; the artist through who's eyes we see the story, his brother who had an affair with the woman charged and the traumatized daughter.

The clues are there and were put together cleverly.  Loved it.

You can find the story only in this issue of EQMM

The author's website is HERE

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Merchants of Venus by Fredrik Pohl - short story review

This is a longer story (32,000 words) about a down-on-his-luck prospecting guide who lands very rich clients just when he really needs them.

The story is about Audee Walthers a man who once lived on Earth but now makes his home on Venus.  Trouble is Walthers is dying and needs a large influx of money for a liver transplant.  He is lucky enough to meet and contract with a rich couple on an adventure holiday from Earth.  The couple wants to go on a prospecting tour but, on Venus, it's not mineral wealth that people are prospecting for - it's archeology.  Venus was once populated by a race dubbed the Heechee, who once lived in under-ground tunnels, and who mysteriously left the planet.  Finding unexplored tunnels and any artifacts can make a person instantly wealthy.

There are numerous lies and double-crosses in the story.  This is what I look for in a SF story; I want to see real people struggling to make a living doing the kinds of things that people do right here on earth; like trying to out-fox each other for money.  I don't need FTL travel and I don't need aliens mucking up the story to make it work for me but I do love the hardware.  Give me space and a bucket-of-bolts space ship and I'm hooked.

I came to the story via a wonderful on-line service provided by Best Science Fiction Stories, conveniently found at: 

If you decide to subscribe you'll get near-daily updates from them.  The emails themselves are wonderful; not only do they tell you a bit about the story and where to read it but they will also give you a bit of background on the author and the story itself, like if the story is part of a much larger series of novels, if it won any awards and if it was collected in book form along the way.  I highly recommend the service.

You can find an example of the email that brought me to this story HERE

You can find the story HERE

 Information on the Author can be found HERE

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We Dragons by Tim Sevenhuysen - short story review

Nice.  Really nice.

A small team lands on a planet to survey it for possible terraforming.

The hope is to find the planet devoid of sentient beings; along the way they discover they are not alone.

The story works on lots of different levels; a strait SF tale of exploration but it's also a morality tale; what do you do when faced with a perceived failure?  How much can you trust those who surround you and you ultimately rely upon?  How do we really judge a hero?

There's quite a bit going on in this story - it could easily have been expanded to novella length and would have benefited by the extra breathing room.

And that is my only complaint - it was too short.

Keep an eye on this author.

The story can be found HERE

The author's website is HERE

For more SF goodness visit Raygun Revival

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Estimated Time of Arrival by James Bambury - short story review.

Having seen most Star Trek shows I'm very familiar with the term "colonists."  Those plucky farmer types who just want to start a new life, living off the land of some far away planet.

This fun and quick story is aptly titled.  We all know how fast technology can change (anybody remember a 14.4 dial-up modem?)  In this story Moore's Law has a profound impact on their lives as a mysterious ship, from Earth, lands in the middle of the colony.  The captain of the new ship steps out and greets them by saying "Hello, bumpkins!  I just bought this planet."

From there on things happen quickly and I was reading it all with a smile on my face.  It was how Bambury handled the characters that made funny and serious at the same time.  Maybe funny is not the right word - absurd is a better choice.  You can see how the circumstances in the story happen now and have happened since the dawn of time.

I enjoyed this story.  It reminds me that there is still science fiction being written that I enjoy reading.

You can read the story on-line HERE

The author (a Canadian) can be found HERE.

You can enjoy new Space Opera at Raygun Revival HERE