Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in return for an honest review. Thanks, Rhett! Also, this review originally appeared on Amazon.com.
IfDisclaimer: I received this book from the author in return for an honest review. Thanks, Rhett! Also, this review originally appeared on Amazon.com.
If, like me, you love Science Fiction short (or long) stories by masters like Philip K. Dick and Hugh Howey, you'll do yourself a great disservice if you don't read Rhett Bruno's "This Long Vigil". This story is just 20 pages long --- it'll take you about 20 minutes to read, but it'll stay with you for a long, long time.
I wouldn't want to give away any details here but like all good Science Fiction stories, "This Long Vigil" addresses the human condition in its own way; does this condition, whatever it is, invariably pop up despite all odds, despite the absence of fellow humans to influence our behavior, despite the way we were nurtured? Or can it be forgotten forever?
Rhett Bruno's on my to-read list now. I'm sure he'll be on yours too after you read this gem....more
"Promises of London" is a poignant story about a failed love, and a lover's therapeutic actions to get closure.
For those who have read Hugh Howey's ot"Promises of London" is a poignant story about a failed love, and a lover's therapeutic actions to get closure.
For those who have read Hugh Howey's other works, just FYI ---- This story isn't science fiction or set in the future. Howey has a flair for making his work relatable, and I'm glad he is not limiting himself to the genre of science fiction. Do read this short story, and don't be surprised if it evokes some memories that will make you sigh....more
"The End is Now" is the second book in the Apocalypse Triptych. I'd immensely enjoyed #1, "The End is Nigh" (review here), and I've been a huge fan of"The End is Now" is the second book in the Apocalypse Triptych. I'd immensely enjoyed #1, "The End is Nigh" (review here), and I've been a huge fan of the connected short stories idea.
Some of my favorites in this collection (in the order of their appearance in the book) are:
Tananarive Due's "Herd Immunity" (prequel: "Removal Order" in #1): Though I enjoyed "Removal Order", I wouldn't have gushed with praise about it. But, "Herd Immunity" is another story entirely (ha!). The protagonist, Nayima, is more well-defined here. The transformation the end of the world has brought in her --- from a young woman fighting against all odds to care for her dying grandmother to a selfish, unapologetic woman looking out for companionship in the times when mere survival is a feat, is startling. It is also sadly believable. Though the editors and the author might not agree, I think Due's stories will be appreciated more if read in order.
Nancy Kress's "Angels of the Apocalypse" (prequel: "Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through" in #1): Like Due's stories, I think these too deserve to be read in order --- the bigger picture is more attractive than the isolated stories. Interesting portrayal of how nice (to the point of stupidity) people evoke different emotions in the general population --- one faction strives to be the protector and the other, the predator.
Jake Kerr's "Penance" (prequel: "Wedding Day" in #1): "Wedding Day" and "Penance" share the apocalypse, but not the people. As such, they can be read in isolation. "Penance" is an amazing take on how messengers with a conscience suffer while delivering bad news.
Will McIntosh's "Dancing with the Batgirl in the Land of Nod" (prequel: "Dancing with Death in the Land of Nod" in #1): I think the sequel falls a bit short of the prequel (again, no common characters really), but it's fantastic nevertheless. One common theme in the two stories is how we tend to forgive loved ones that annoy or betray us in the times when all hell breaks loose.
Robin Wasserman's "Dear John" (prequel: "The Balm and the Wound" in #1): I'd definitely recommend reading the prequel before reading this one --- it'll be fun to know the background stories of the characters. "Dear John" is just a bunch of letters written by a woman, Heather, to all the males she's had in her life. When the world is ending, Heather is safe in a shelter with fellow believers, all members of a cult whose young leader had accurately predicted the apocalypse. When the world was still alive, Heather had been the girl men left behind; she's writing these letters for closure --- they won't be delivered (well, all but her last one, which is to the current male in her life), because all those men are most certainly dead. It's interesting how, in every letter, Heather imagines how the man died --- it's a painful death for men who ill-treated her, and a more peaceful one for those she liked.
Thanks, John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, for doing a wonderful job. Looking forward to #3... ...more
"The Last Rail Rider" was unexpected, in a very good way. I prefer this current version of the story so much more to the original one that appeared in"The Last Rail Rider" was unexpected, in a very good way. I prefer this current version of the story so much more to the original one that appeared in the Eclectica magazine some years ago. It was interesting to see how the woman in the two versions of this story was portrayed so differently --- repulsive in one and empathetic in the other --- and yet, her role was essentially the same. I'd recommend reading the Eclectica version of this story after reading this one --- you'd see how expansive the author's imagination is!
I'm looking forward to more works by Jason Gurley. BTW, I received an e-copy of this short story after subscribing to his mailing list, and it's so worth it.
[This review originally appeared on Amazon.]...more
The Apocalypse Triptych, as the name suggests, will have three pieces of work. The End is Nigh is the first one --- the theme in this anthology is theThe Apocalypse Triptych, as the name suggests, will have three pieces of work. The End is Nigh is the first one --- the theme in this anthology is the pre-apocalyptic world. The second book will have stories about people and events during the apocalypse, and the third book will be based in the post-apocalyptic era. Some stories within these books will be connected too, thereby telling a tale spanning over the entire set of doomed events. Interesting, very interesting.
In this anthology, each story portrays people dealing with their crumbling world in their own ways --- there is denial, anger, love, generosity, resignation, fear, spirituality, and violence. I wonder which stories from this book will make it to the second one. I hope they all do. Some of my favorites in this collection are:
Robin Wasserman's "The Balm and the Wound" --- The narrator, though a jerk in many ways, has a flair for storytelling. I'd recommend this one for just the narration... Ben H. Winters "BRING HER TO ME" --- Oooh, this one was especially creepy! Hugh Howey's "In the Air" --- Hugh, you are, as always, amazing. For those of you who are familiar with the Wool saga, you will go gaga over this one. Trust me. Will McIntosh's "Dancing with Death in the Land of Nod" -- This one made me cry a little. Okay, a lot. Matthew Mather's "Enlightenment" --- I've always viewed Matthew Mather as the guy whose works are the scariest because they are so contemporary --- the events he describes can happen tomorrow (Do read CyberStorm, you guys). But Enlightenment, though certainly probable, isn't scary in that way; in fact, there isn't a lot of end-of-the-world here. It is, quite simply, horrifying in its depravity. Kudos, Matthew!
Thanks, John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, and all the authors, for the wonderful work. Looking forward to more anthologies......more
Please, short stories have not gone out of fashion. The evidence is this fabulous collection of short stories from some of the best indie authors.
ThoPlease, short stories have not gone out of fashion. The evidence is this fabulous collection of short stories from some of the best indie authors.
Though I enjoyed each and ever story in this collection, Kate Danley's "Queen Joanna", Ernie Lindsey's "The Man with Two Legs", Susan May's "The War Veteran", and Michael Bunker's "REDOUBT" are my favorites. I loved the foreword by Hugh Howey. I know this sounds pretty weird --- who talks about the foreword of a book really? But then, Hugh is a pretty awesome guy --- a guy with the Midas touch.
This collection has something for everyone. There are vampires, there's apocalypse, there's supernatural phenomenon, there's historical fiction, there's a bit of dystopia thrown in, there's magic, there's family, there's love, and there's hate born out of ignorance. I discovered some new authors and I'm looking forward to reading more of their work. I loved reading some more work of Peter Cawdron, Michael Bunker, Jason Gurley, and Hugh Howey. You guys are awesome! Also, applause for David Gatewood --- thanks for doing a great job....more
Anyone who has lived in Dehradun, India, and hasn't read Ruskin Bond, is missing out on so much that the beautiful Garhwal and Doon Valley have to offAnyone who has lived in Dehradun, India, and hasn't read Ruskin Bond, is missing out on so much that the beautiful Garhwal and Doon Valley have to offer. I got to know my valley intimately --- the tigers and cheetahs, the majestic eucalyptus and banyan trees, the rivers and streams, and the beautiful houses with sprawling orchards. I cherished the descriptions of small cities and villages that sometimes weren't even listed on the map, simply because I couldn't go on an exploratory journey myself.
The people in Bond's stories are so real, maybe because most of his stories are based on fact. These people are so ordinary really --- if you lived in the Doon valley in the 90s, I'm sure you knew some of them. These people live and die in the villages they were born in (unless they ran away from home), play cricket and break windows, eat out in the "dhabas", believe in ghosts, sometimes take pleasure in someone else's misfortune, are victims of unrequited love, lose a job, judge others harshly, struggle to make ends meet, enjoy trysts in the soft rains, and go to the movies to escape it all. They dream big, and are often content not to make their dreams a reality. They always welcome a guest with open arms, even if they abandon him later. They are capable of acts of unexpected cruelty and at the same time, unparalleled generosity. Simply put, they are regular people who do not pretend to be even a little bit more than what they are.
Of all the stories in this collection, "Time Stops at Shamli" makes me sentimental and all... gooey inside. There's nothing sappy about this story --- it's just so real (there's that word again). Oh well, go read Bond's stories, especially if you've been to Dehra and/or the surrounding areas. And if you're walking down the quiet part of the Mall Road in Mussoorie, you might meet Ruskin Bond --- a "pukka sahib", clad in his heavy coat, checked hat, and muffler, reading and climbing the steep slopes at the same time. ...more
After reading Wool and The Plagiarist, I'd pegged the author down as someone who did a marvelous job of reviving my interest in science fiction --- goAfter reading Wool and The Plagiarist, I'd pegged the author down as someone who did a marvelous job of reviving my interest in science fiction --- gone is the scorn at "them predictable apocalypse" stories. However, this book and The Hurricane made me realize that there is more to the author than simply being the best science fiction writer of the recent years. With an imagination that is appealingly unconventional yet grounded in the knowledge of the workings of the human mind --- individuals or in packs, the author can write any genre out there....more
I really enjoyed reading The Plagiarist. Hugh Howey has a wonderful way with words (and haiku!). I'm glad I found a modern SF author whose books I reaI really enjoyed reading The Plagiarist. Hugh Howey has a wonderful way with words (and haiku!). I'm glad I found a modern SF author whose books I really look forward to reading.
The biggest appeal of Hugh Howey's books, for me, is that the story is so plausible. SF is generally incredible (I guess the point is that it is meant to be), but Hugh's way makes it so that one realizes after reading half-way through his books that a feeling of "meh-I-gotta-accept-the-crazy-stuff-'coz-that's-what-I've-come-to-expect-from-SF" is missing --- you have no trouble imagining the "wonders" in his books.
The only reason I gave this book a 4 instead of a 5 is that it was easy to figure out where the story was going long before the end. But all in all, I'd recommend this one to all SF fans....more