Sunday, November 27, 2016

God Mode by Daniel H. Wilson - A Short Story Review


This was a trippy little exploration of the interpretation of reality.

A young couple meet and fall for each other.  Meanwhile, strange things are happening all around them.  The stars are winking out, one by one.  Details of the city are turning grey.

And then there is a strange voice.

Nicely done.  I enjoyed my time with this story.

Daniel H. Wilson -

Daniel H. Wilson

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke - A Short Story Review


The high lama of Tibet needs a computer to churn out every possible name of God.


Well, that doesn't matter when you can sell a new Mark V computer.

It's not long before we find out why and the results are very interesting.

Clarke had a knack.

This anthology continues to delight.

Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large by James Alan Gardner - A Short Story Review


I really liked this story.

An odd little girl, Muffin, has knowledge of the future and strangers come to the house to get her guidance.

Meanwhile her uncle and brother try to make sense of her.

She is a good girl and has plans for the future.

I was very interested in knowing more about Muffin which kept me reading.

There was also a gentleness to the story that made me feel like everything was going to be all right in the end.

It's not Science Fiction.  Perhaps speculative fiction?  I really don't know what that means.

Urban Fantasy seems to fit.  Let's call it that.  But there's no magic or supernatural elements.

I know, let's just call it a good story.

James Alan Gardner's website -

Monday, November 21, 2016

Carpe Diem by Eileen Kernaghan - A Short Story Review


I am Canadian.

Why am I not reading more stories from Canada?

I dug out this collection from On-Spec magazine.  You know, I've purchased many issues of the magazine and I am sure I haven't read even one.  They are all in a shoe box in my basement.  I think I will have to take a run at them.

This story was an odd one, with a twist ending that left me scratching my head.

We follow a group of senior women who are being monitored for something.  Blood tests, and all kinds of medical checkups are being performed regularly.

We are never told why.

But if you don't make the cut....

Eileen Kernaghan's website -

How to Become a Mars Overlord by Catherynne M. Valente - Lightspeed Magazine


Great title.

But I found this one to be rather odd.

The author has a love of space opera and ancient mythology.

Take those two genres and fold them into a promotional/professional development seminar and you get a feel for how the story is presented.

Don't get me wrong, it was fun and I loved the author's sentences.  There is a real love of grandiose language that I found quite entertaining.

I just don't know how to label it.  Perhaps that is what makes it good.  I have not run into anything quite like it before.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Surface Tension by James Blish - A Short Story Review


The story begins with a crashed seed-ship on a new world that was meant to be a new human colony.

With the ship smashed and the cargo nearly destroyed the captain an crew come up with an inventive way of completing their mission.

The story then moves a pivotal moment in the history of these new life forms the human created.

I was, at first instantly bored by the story, it was just another "look how strange my aliens are" tale.  But then a very human adventure began and a familiar story of evolution repeated itself on this new world.

In the end I found the story to be very interesting indeed.

I kept reminding my self of what the influential editor, Gardner Dozois once said; "The nice thing about short stories, even the bad ones, is that they are short."  (Or something along those lines.)

This kept me reading and I am happy I did.

It awoke the sense of wonder of how incredibly big this story was.

Terrific.  A highlight of the collection.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn - A Short Story Review


This was another podcast of one of issue #1 of Lightspeed magazine.

The story was lovely.

Was it post apocalyptic?  Who knows.  Society is certainly different than it is today; much more planned and community centered.

It was a joy to listen to as Gabrielle De Cuir had a wonderful delivery.  She captured the emotion of the piece. 

This was a story about people, their past and letting go of it. 

The future demands it.


Dinosaur Killers by Chris Kluwe - A Short Story Review


What would it be like to witness the annihilation of Earth from your perch, in orbit, on a space station?

Here the narrator is trying to make sense of it and decide what he should do next, when a voice from another station asks, "Where are the others?"

The sentences are choppy.  The narration stuttered.  As we try to grasp with what it all means.

It is a unique view of a post apocalyptic world.

I liked it.

It sure makes you think.

The Quest For Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher - A Short Story Review


A post apocalyptic story of a priest on a mission to find the tomb of St. Aquin.

It is a strange journey through the fringes of the blasted landscape of the western coast of America.

The role of religion has changed.  Technology has progressed.  Attitudes may not have.

Interesting friends are made and the ultimate discovery needs contemplation.

It's not surprising that there are so many dystopian entries in this volume; we are only five or six years post World War II and the Cold War is dominating public thought.

As I work my way through the pages I find myself sighing whenever I come across this kind of story.

I read them, and they are all excellent, it's just I miss the sense of wonder that I like best about science fiction.

In any case it was a good story and I felt it would have made a damn good novel.  I liked Father Thomas and felt he was good company in this strange environment.

Hard Cover

Anthony Boucher


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You In Reno by Vylar Kaftan - A Short Story Review


I decided to go as far back as the Lightspeed podcast archives would allow me.

Right to the beginning, as it turns out.

This was an expression of love as told through physics.

Such an inventive idea.

I liked it.

Vylar Kaftan -

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Willful Child: Wrath of Betty by Steven Erikson - Book Review #165


Oh, what fun!

Every once in a while it's good to take a step back and to have a bit of fun with a pillar of the science fiction genre.

I'm talking about Star Trek.  In this book we have a "Federation" and a rogue young captain who has no trouble breaking the rules to accomplish missions to his own satisfaction.

It took me a couple of chapters before I understood the author's voice in this story.  It was a crazy cacophony of geek-speak and twisted references.  Once the plot revealed itself I could sit back and enjoy what Erikson was doing.

Each chapter read like an episode from the series with an over-arching plot line to give it good continuity.

My favourite part of the book was when the crew went back in time old Earth circa 2015, to a comic convention.  This being a complete lift of the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where that crew went back in time to 1986.

I loved the banter and the observations of life as we know it today.

There is no way to talk about this book without referencing Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Yes.  It's a lot like that.  I really admire how Erikson was able to twist the Star Trek structures, add ridiculous characters and circumstances and have it make sense. 

Like Adams he was also able to make a serious statement about how we live our lives and to deliver that while making me laugh.  We are dealing with a very smart author here.

This is the second book in a series.  I believe my struggles with the first couple of chapters had more to do with the author expecting the reader to have been there for the first book.  I respect that; when I am reading a series I find the effort writers make to help the first-time reader to be tedious.

I found myself stealing moments to read a page or two and bringing the book along just in case I had a few minutes to dive back in.  Most books I read do not captivate me like this one did.  I had the book with me as if it was my cell phone.

I want to thank Tor for giving me the opportunity to enjoy something so fresh and fun.

Steven Erikson -

Steven Erikson

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shooting Gallery by J. B. Park - A Short Story Review


My recent dive into the world of audio books has lead me to my other interest - short stories.

Lightspeed Magazine has been in my circle of magazines since it launched in 2010.  John Joseph Adams is the editor and anthologist who has been making quite a splash in the world of short fiction.

The Magazine has always been an interesting hybrid, half the issue is available online for free.  For the complete issue you only have to drop $3.99 which is a real bargain.

They also podcast the free stories which is something I really appreciate.

I have often thought it would be a cool idea to go back into the archives of Analog or some other, now-defunct pulp magazine and podcast the stories.

But what about this story?

It's about a down-on-his-luck undead teenaged boy who is trying to earn a little bit of rent money for his down-on-her-luck mother.

He decides to leverage his "undead-ness" to do so.

It really was an interesting idea.  It was also touching and deeply rooted in humanity.

It was a good read.

Lightspeed Magazine November 2016 issue.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber - A Short Story Review


Set in a post World War Three United States, we follow a British man visiting what is left of New York city.

While on the street he intervenes to help a young woman from an attempted hit and run.

From that moment on we are treated to a story that reveals how much American society has changed.

It was so strange that it reminded me of the Judge Dredd series.

The protagonist does his best to help the woman but circumstances are much more complicated than first thought.

It was a good story but the open-ended conclusion left me wanting a bit more.

Fritz Leiber
Galaxy Science Fiction - November 1950