Category: DSF Story Reviews


“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
Williams Strunk Jr.

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For those who came by the blog this past Friday in anticipation of my reviews of Daily Science Fiction‘s stories, I do apologize for not having a post for you. I had taken on a freelance writing gig that’s taking up some of my free time, and since I do have two jobs and I also volunteer, my reading fell by the wayside… I don’t think I’ll be posting a DSF Reviews post this upcoming Friday either. I do plan to get back to it. But I’m sure some of you know how it is with new things and finding the right groove for everything.

Also, I haven’t posted a snippet for Science Fiction & Fantasy Saturday for two weeks in a row. I plan to get back to that as well!

And speaking of SFFS, I met J.M. Blackman through that webring of authors, and she so graciously asked me for an interview. It was posted last week and we discuss my take on the diversity in speculative fiction today. You can check out the interview here.

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“Good fiction creates empathy. A novel takes you somewhere and asks you to look through the eyes of another person, to live another life.
Barbara Kingsolver

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sunglasses_a_1April 29, 2013
Shades of the Father
by M. Adrian Sellers
I liked this story! Aubrey’s father passed away, but in his dad’s will, the only thing left to him was his pair of shades. And Aubrey didn’t understand why, until one day he put them on. Now, although the story does present a few questions (like: what father would actually leave his son only a pair of shades?) it didn’t ruin the story. It reminded me of a small video short a lady named Shalini Kantayya had done on a reality TV show called On the Lot (not very popular; lasted one season, haha). This is Mr. Sellers’ first sale, so a huge congratulations goes out to him for that! You can read Shades of the Father by clicking here.

April 30, 2013
It’s Good to See You
by Douglas Rudoff
This story was definitively character-driven. The conflict here was an internal one, which I give two thumbs up to! The backdrop is 3,000 people take a voyage to join a new Earth. However, the space journey being so long, they would only allow 100 people alive at any given time. And each person has 100 days of being alive, then they are dead for eight years, and brought back to life for another 100 days to heal. And repeated. It’s not as weird as it sounds, nor is it disturbing. The main character is a man named Brad who has given up on many things throughout his life and eventually gave up on Earth. Then he finds out that his ex-wife is also on this voyage. I would have liked to actually see their past play out in scenes as opposed to summary, but it’s still a good story. You can read It’s Good to See You by clicking here.

May 1, 2013
Persephone at Arm’s Length
by Bridget A. Natale
I can’t say I’m a fan of this one. The writing was good, but I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to come away with after getting to the end of this story. I can’t even properly say what it was about. I know I don’t condone the adulterous actions of the characters, but I didn’t really see the theme to this story. If you would like to read Persephone at Arm’s Length, click here.

May 2, 2013
Lyam
by Jez Patterson
Amusing little story about a couple, Geoff and Moira, adopting an alien baby. The inadequacy that Moira felt actually hit home with something I was feeling very recently. My situation had nothing to do with a child, but the principle is still the same. It was nice to see Geoff’s responses to Moira’s doubts; it’s nice to have someone like that in your life. I thought Mr. Patterson did a good job with their relationship, as I thought it was a good dynamic. That said, Geoff did feel a bit “perfect” but it’s still a nice story. You can read Lyam here.

bookcaseMay 3, 2013
Things We Leave Behind
by Alex Shvartsman (his website)
This is a great story, with a very slight speculative bit. But it is autobiographical in a lot of ways, and you can get that by how rich the characters were and their situation. I am so glad Daily Science Fiction published this story even though the science fiction aspect is just hardly there. It’s about a family in the Soviet Union who wants to move to America, but the father has a bookshelf full of books that he claims keeps their neighborhood safe, and he is hesitant to uproot. The relationship between father and son is done so well. This story is definitely recommended. Kudos to Mr. Shvartsman! You can read Things We Leave Behind here.

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“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say  ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
C.S. Lewis

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More short stories from Daily Science Fiction! Last week when these stories were e-mailed, one of the days Daily Science Fiction mentioned my blog, as well as the blog Songs of Eretz. Both of us review their stories, so they just gave us a nice plug. Very appreciative! What a privilege!

Onto the stories!

April 22, 2013
Snippets
by k. b. dalai
The story is written by a husband and wife team, and I must say that they started this story off with such anticipation of what was to come next, it reeled me right in! Roger’s an intercept analyst who works for NRO. One night his boss visits his home and drops an attaché case in front of him and lets him know that whatever he discovers, he is to report it directly to the president.

After that, it kind of dwindled. I didn’t understand why Roger would show the information to someone without clearance, and the ending of the story didn’t seem to end. It just appeared to trail off. Which would have been fine, as some stories work better that way, but I didn’t feel that this story presented anything other than a question. You can read Snippets by clicking here.

time travelApril 23, 2013
Grief in the Strange Loop
by Rhonda Eikamp
Quite a story. It involves time travel, and it gives a twist to a father being absent in the household, which I believe does have bearings on how the family is as a whole. While I liked the intertwining of multiple aspects of the story (absent father, father complex, a son you never knew) it seemed more summary to me than story. Perhaps because the author introduced so much potential for a larger piece of fiction. There is a lot more story that could be told. You can read Grief in the Strange Loop by clicking here.

April 24, 2013
Swan Song
by Melissa Mead (her website)
Melissa Mead is a skillful writer and very imaginative. I could say that all day. This story, however, I didn’t connect with. It felt so much like exposition and not really a story. There were characters but they didn’t come off as people. And I don’t know what fairy tale this is a derivative of either (but that’s on me). You can read Swan Song here.

April 25, 2013electric
The Lady Electric
by Gary B. Phillips (his blog)
This story wasn’t bad. The tone was mellow but it wasn’t boring. The story was slow but it didn’t drag. I think it was a very good balance. It’s a story about a lady who is basically electric, and a man named Edison gets hold of her and puts her in his laboratory, powering cities with her power. The main character, a man the reader only knows as “Mr. Atwood,” knew her before her captivity, loves her, and wants to see her free. Worth checking out! You can read The Lady Electric here.

unicornsApril 26, 2013
Chasing Unicorns
by Terra LeMay (her website)
Starting the story mentioning unicorn hunters? WIN! Immediately afterwards being introduced to six people in three paragraphs? Rather off-putting. The story isn’t for the faint of heart, as it really does deal with hunting unicorns. It’s a bit on the graphic side, but I personally didn’t think it was overly so. Anyways, the main character is Shay, a guy who knows his way around processing illegal substances. And unicorn horn (and therefore hunting unicorns) is not legal, even though it is an antidote to poison and not a drug. One thing I liked about this story is the analogies used and the fact that unicorn hunting is not so simple. The unicorns have a very interesting defensive mechanism that appeals to people’s emotions. Worth the read if you’re not squeamish. You can read Chasing Unicorns here.

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“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.  No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
Robert Frost

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More short stories from Daily Science Fiction! This week was just okay as a whole. The five stories included two stories told in second-person, a mermaid story, an AI story, and a story where a woman takes clingy to an ultra level. Quite the variety! Go, DSF! Of the five, the AI story stands out the most, and the other four were nothing outstanding. None were dreadful, just two of them I wasn’t clear on things, another story was overshadowed by the format, and the other didn’t have huge characterization. All written by writers with great talent. But if there’s one thing you may learn about me quick, I strive for lots of character development and understanding motivation. Not saying everything I write is deep in characterization (as some stories aren’t meant to be and are just meant to be fun or experimental) but as a whole, that’s what I enjoy.

Onto the stories!

April 15, 2013
Never Leave Me
by Michelle Ann King (her website)
I enjoyed the prose, but I’m on the fence regarding the actual story. It’s about a woman named Katrine who never wants her husband to leave her, so she goes to the witch of the town. Already sounds a little psychotic, right? I think the story could have been much more suspenseful, more shocking, and more clear. I am still unsure what exactly happened in the scene with Katrine and the witch. It’s completely possible I missed something though. You can read Never Leave Me by clicking here.

April 16, 2013
Legerdemain
by Gabriel Murray (his blog)rose maze
There’s been quite a bit of second person stories coming my way. And this one kind of fell flat to me. Perhaps I’m really picky with second-person stories, but I think it would’ve read better in first or third person. Claude is an illusionist who seems to have set his eyes on the Spencers. I do like the title; it fits perfectly. As for the twist at the end, “Misdirection,” as Claude stated several times in the story, is what I felt happened to me as a reader! To a degree it’s good but to another degree I find myself wondering if what I’m thinking happened happened. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. So, I didn’t quite grasp the ending. I don’t think… Maybe you can though. You can read Legerdemain here.

April 17, 2013
The Chosen One Can’t Lose
by Sean Vivier
A second second-person narrative for the week.  The main character is the chosen one, the Champion of Light, and this details his journey. You know those “choose your own adventure” books you read a page or so, then it gives you a couple of options, then tells you which page to skip to depending on the option you chose? That’s how this is written. I applaud Mr. Vivier for choosing to write the story in such a format. The author kind of flips the “choice” aspect on its head though, giving a nice twist and an adamant statement towards the end. Although I personally believe that each choice we make makes a difference and you can choose to not fulfill your destiny, I really liked how this story delivered the alternative. And it isn’t preachy at all.

With that said, I think the manner in which this story was written felt too broken up. The format, to me, took away from the story. And although the message somewhat redeemed it in the end, the story itself felt like the backdrop. I think the formatting swallowed the short story. Maybe if it was a longer piece, and it had more time to develop, I would have enjoyed it more. You can read The Chosen One Can’t Lose here.

April 18, 2013
What Merfolk Must Know
by Kat Otis (her website)Ursula
This was touching in the end, although in the beginning I felt dragged from scene-to-scene without much character development, and that’s a big thing for me. But once the “stories” of a previous mermaid who bargained with the sea witch was mentioned, I pretty much stayed afloat. The story focuses around what the merfolk call a deathship — a ship that spews chained men and women into the ocean. The main character is curious and wants a human to love, no matter if it later brings her heartache. She goes to the sea witch and bargains… I suppose we can chalk this up to my mind simply being curious, but I wondered what did the sea witch gain from the bargain? What did the main character have to give up? In The Little Mermaid, the sea witch took Ariel’s voice. And I’m not saying this sea witch had to follow in Ursula’s steps, but it crossed my mind. The story didn’t quite have the depth of character I like, but it’s a good story to read nonetheless. You can read What Merfolk Must Know here.

April 19, 2013
Paradise Left
by Evan Dicken (his website)
The story tells the story of a world where AIs are the government and rule Earth. Everything is in order — money, issues, and no harm can befall humans. However, there is a group of rebels who want it back to pre-Singularlity. They want real scotch, they want real weapons, they want real wars, they don’t want the machines protecting them. The story hones in on Rob and Ashley — Rob used to be in the rebellion, Ashley still is. Conflict. Very good story. You can read Paradise Left here.

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To sign up for Daily Science Fiction’s mailing list, visit DailyScienceFiction.com and subscribe for free! Every weekday you’ll get a brand new story in your inbox (a week before it goes up online).