Residential Aliens, Day 3: Short Stories Reviewed

CSFF Blog Tour

Short stories and flash fiction abound in the archives of Residential Aliens, so much so that it was difficult to make a reading choice. In the end, I selected two tales at random, one fantasy and the other futuristic fiction. Without further ado, here’s my experience with these stories.

By TS King

In this fantasy tale, Alcandhor has just inherited the position of Thane from his deceased father. In the face of many challenges, he must make a difficult decision with his newfound authority. That’s the core of the story at least, but a number of other elements that didn’t seem to fit detracted from the primary thrust. Petition presented a nice contrast between love and law, and showed a sympathetic character, one committed to honor and integrity. Yet the shifting focus of the storyline as it progressed, and the tone of the tale, which wavered between archaic and modern, made it difficult to enjoy. With these issues plus a number of other minor flaws, this one did no more than mildly hold my interest.

Highway Songs
By Angie Lofthouse

Set about 20 years in the future, Highway Songs reminded me of an Indiana Jones  escapade, with its inclusion of ancient lore, religious artifacts, and Mayan shrines. Trucker Andy Shumway is accosted in the night by professor of ancient history James Namoki, a man determined to save the life of an innocent child. Their alliance quickly propels them into danger as they encounter malicious individuals from an ancient Mayan cult.

The writing itself was serviceable but not compelling, and heavy on “telling” at points, which prevented the story from coming fully to life. Multiple typos also distracted from the reading experience. Moreover, the conclusion, which seemed to link Kulkulkan (Mayan mythical god) and Christ, struck me as odd. In some ways, it reminded me of Lewis’s theory that pagan myths foreshadow Christian truth, yet I found myself uncertain what the protagonist encountered and what the story attempted to communicate. However, the story remained tightly focused on a single storyline and the high stakes–a child’s life–helped keep it moving.

While the two particular stories I read didn’t make a deep impression on me, I don’t often read short stories (I prefer novels, in general), and because of that, I may not be the ideal reviewer for this genre. But if you’re a reader of speculative fiction and short stories, there are plenty to choose from, and you’ll likely find something at Residential Aliens to enjoy.

If you’re a fan of short stories, I’d like to know…what do you expect from a good short story? What about that reading experience appeals to you?

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