Friday, August 31, 2018

Dreams vs. Memories

Desire will drive a man to do many things and make many mistakes. When magic and witch's brew are involved, however, those mistakes can have unimaginable consequences.

Dreams by Erik Lynd opens with a rather intriguing flashback, setting the main character, Gary, apart from the typical patron of psychics. He belongs to a coven and believes remembering his dreams will help him advance in his lessons. Unfortunately, Gary is obsessed with the coven's leader, Sheila. The means to the end become the end...of Gary.

I feel sorry for Gary in a way. I know what it's like to dream so vividly, for so long, and waking up with extra memories. I think anyone who is into lucid dreaming will really enjoy this short story. Gary's misfortune would make a great full-length novel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Things That Make You Scream

When Benjamin is told he can't watch a movie he really wants to see because it's on past his bedtime, he's determined to disobey his mother and watch it anyway, knowing full well he's going to get into trouble if he gets caught. He will soon learn that there are things more fearsome in the house than his mother's wrath.

Benjamin by Michael J. Evans is something I read once before, but I can't for the life of me remember when or where. The ending still surprised me. For a moment, I was expecting something to come out from under the bed...maybe a battle between monsters. I would've been okay with Benjamin sacrificing his older brothers too.

The stories with children at the center always scare the crap out of me, and Evans knows just how to drag out the nightmare.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Prequel to Sodenia

They came in a blink of an eye and without warning, and intentions unknown. But when aliens made landfall, they began destroying everything in their path.
Fain was excited to see his dad who had been away from home for a long time. But instead of spending quality family time, they found themselves fleeing, running for their lives.
Hundreds of thousands tried to escape the alien wrath, but most did not survive.

Space Bound: Zero Hour by Luigi Robles is a prequel to a series about life after an alien invasion. The next installment is the novel, Sodenia. Fain, is a returning character. While the prequel held my interest from beginning to end, showing the invasion through multiple POVs of children, the reading level is definitely geared towards middle-schoolers. I'm not sure if this is intentional or not.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Phronk Is A New Fave

Brandon notices them at his grandpa’s funeral first: a pair of men in sunglasses who nobody seems to know. They’re not family, they're not friends, they’re just … there. No big deal, until they show up again at the next funeral. Drawn into a world of funeral selfies and burial crashers, Brandon needs to know what these strangers want from the dead.

Strangers at a Funeral by P.T. Phronk is a brilliant story! I love the author's writing style...I felt as though I was accompanying Brandon throughout his investigation into the strange funeral crashers. I wish Phronk would write a full-length novel about Brandon and his family, as well as the Strangers. At the very least, I'd love to see this story turned into a movie.

If you're a fan of movies like Silver Bullet or Phantasm, I strongly recommend this story to you.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Blood Trilogy Continues

"SCARS", the second novella on the BLOOD Trilogy, takes off two years after the events of "BLOOD". Caius Nilsson is back to being a rock star, the search for his father forgotten now he is reunited with his twin brother. But a darkness lurks inside him, and threatens his life. Now the brothers must take up the search for Titus McFee again, to understand the disease taking over Cai and a find a way to save him. But how far is Marcus willing to go only to assure his brother is safe?

Scars by Ruth Miranda (read April 2018 interview here) takes a slightly different route from the first book in the trilogy. While both the first and second stories center on the family drama surrounding the twin brothers, Marcus and Caius, the storyline moves on from physical abuse and traumatic loss to issues such as self-cutting, depression and addiction.

The author once again addresses real-life issues using preternatural characters, giving both the supernatural and psychological aspects of the story far more depth than what would be possible with just one or the other. By mixing in the brothers' search for their negligent father, Miranda also incorporates the suspense of a mystery-thriller as well.

Unfortunately, I take issue with the writing style this time around. The inner-thoughts dialogue of Marcus and Caius, set apart by italics, are too long, often unnecessary and mostly disruptive to the overall flow. I also disliked the lack of growth displayed by the brothers. The second story jumps ahead two years, but there is not much in their interactions to suggest they've spent such a long period of time getting to know one another, aside from Marcus' concern for Caius' health.

I am still looking forward to the third book in the Blood trilogy. Miranda has a true talent for taking headlines, such as the battles with addiction and tragic overdose deaths of those in the music industry, and turning inner demons into supernatural creatures struggling with the same afflictions.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sci-Fi Sunday Shorts

Three classic fairy tales with a sci-fi twist.

A Little Stroll through the Woods:

Little Red Riding Hood ventures in the woods in her house vicinity, headed to her granny. When she meets the wolf, something peculiar happens. Why he's saying he met the girl before?

Little Thumb:

Little Thumb is the younger member of a large family. When he realizes they have not enough food for everyone, he decides he will get rid of his parents.While doing that, he meets an Ogre that will completely change his plans.

Cat in a Box

Chi Bi has a package delivered at his door. When he opens it, a cat robot comes out of it. He says he comes from the future and Chi, himself, is his creator. Is that true? What does this peculiar creature want?


Tales of an Untold Past by Mark Russo is not simply a collection of classic stories retold with a science fiction theme:

A LITTLE STROLL THROUGH THE WOODS has a definite Twilight Zone twist to it and left me wanting a companion story told from the wolf's POV.

LITTLE THUMB has a post-apocalypse setting with a steampunk twist.

Last but not least, CAT IN A BOX includes time-travel.

The first story is the best one and I think the author should consider scrapping the other two and lengthening A Little Stroll into a novella. The wolf deserves more attention.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Get Serious, Please

Short fiction story about Katelyn, a college student, who is kidnapped by a serial killer from a bar in Portland, Oregon.

Katelyn Caged by Liz Livingston is a flash fiction mess...pieces thrown haphazardly together. The dialogue is basic, the characters flat and the POV switches are quite sloppy. Don't even get me started on the ridiculous time jump.

If Livingston wants to be taken seriously as a writer, she needs to get an editor to help transform this into something resembling an actual story.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 24, 2018

Misandry

The Solution by Kiersten Knighting is a flash fiction story about a group of women who have had enough of men. This piece is brutal and leaves a plethora of questions unanswered. The last sentence is a great touch.

I just wish the author had used spellcheck. Far too many typos for a story only a few pages long.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Desperation and Decisions

In a post-apocalyptic future, a mother is faced with an unspeakable choice when she and her young son are ambushed by the living dead.

Cruel Mercy by Christopher Kai is a heart-breaking flash fiction piece. Kai creates a connection between reader and mother by reflecting on all the things she did in order to keep her son alive. One has to wonder if she really felt she made difficult decisions or if, in fact, she continually chose the easy way out of every bad situation.

I also recommend Kai's story, The Peruvian Doll.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Do NOT Give Keene A TV Show

They came to the deserted island to compete on a popular reality television show. Each one hoped to be the last to leave. Now they're just hoping to stay alive, because the island isn't deserted after all. Contestants are disappearing, but they aren't being eliminated by the game. They're being taken by the monstrous, half-human creatures that live deep in the jungle. 

The men will be slaughtered. The women will be kept alive as captives. Night is falling, the creatures are coming, and rescue is so far away...


Castaways by Brian Keene is a savage story showcasing the very best and the very worst of human nature as participants in a reality show are forced to battle another species for survival. Originally, the game contestants were just supposed to compete with each other for a million dollar prize on a television show, but the island is inhabited by a long-lost tribe which followed a very different evolutionary path.

The characters and their personalities are revealed much the way contestants are portrayed on shows such as Survivor, which elicited a similar response. However, instead of cheering for someone to move on to the next round, or be eliminated, I found myself hoping certain characters would make it to the end of the novel, while wishing death on others.

If you are squeamish or merely dabble in the horror genre, do not read this...you won't be able to stomach the violence and gore. Seriously -- Brian Keene is the author I turned to when I thought Stephen King went soft. Keene is so hard, his fans are often left feeling destroyed at the end of his stories. If you do read this novel, and you survive Castaways, I highly recommend Keene's work. All of it.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Snuffed Out

Sarah and Katie are best friends and live basic lives. Until one night, an unfortunate tragedy reveals that their lives are anything but ordinary. Their world is turned upside down and it is up to Sarah to shine light on what has happened—as she steps further—Into the Black.

Into The Black by Simeon Gregory is a flash fiction story about demon preying on the dying. The timeline is a little sloppy and there's zero depth to any of the characters. The idea is interesting, but Gregory rushed through this and failed to deliver any real horror.

I've read a few other short stories by the author, and I think this is the worst one. I wish Gregory would write more stories like Cinema 9 or Wooden Nickel.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dystopian Drama

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.
In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as "bodies", wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.
But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.
After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.
The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy is a mix of science fiction, paranormal, crime drama and mystery-thriller. The book's description doesn't do the story justice. In fact, the description is a bit misleading. Edie doesn't become obsessed with the Braddocks, she becomes possessed by Sylvia, the dead wife, while falling in love with Patrick, the widowed husband. Breaking several rules of the Elysian Society in the process.
Sylvia's death is ruled an accident, but some think it was a suicide, while others believe she was murdered. Due to the nature of their mindsets before death, channeling loved ones who take their own lives is considered dangerous for Bodies...more so for those who were killed violently. Edie keeps telling herself Sylvia's death was accidental, but when an unidentified young woman is found murdered, the Elysian Society comes under scrutiny. Who are they to decide which people are allowed to be brought back? What if their clients are lying just so they can hurt the dead yet again?
Edie's main reason for becoming a Body is to detach herself from her past, but there are too many similarities between Edie, Sylvia and Hopeful Doe to ignore. Too many people are asking too many personal questions. Edie wants a life with Patrick, but she doesn't know what his true intentions are. More importantly, Edie doesn't know her own intentions...she barely recognizes herself anymore.
This novel is so complicated, with secrets within secrets, I'm surprised this is a debut novel. Murphy does an excellent job making the reader feel like a Body channeling Edie. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for something that stands out from all the mainstream lit.
As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 19, 2018

On The Line

There used to be a time when people called 411 for information. But on the other side of that dial tone there may be a place of madness. A tale of revenge and the secret power of media. Be careful out there, one never knows what kind of hidden messages are leaking through the frequency. 

Jacob was a simple 411 operator (back in the day, when that was a thing). A bit anxious, a bit awkward, but not dangerous. Yet when his love is spurned he decides to take matters into his own hands and discovers he has the power to change the world. Its time for revenge.

The secret underworld of 411 operators will be revealed. Note the references of William S. Burroughs and the cutup technology, albeit in audio format. Disturbing, cynical, well-researched, and maybe some mindless shock value. The point is, get ready to learn about untold depths of the 411 scene.

Telephone service jobs, don't you miss them?


411 by Ray Hecht is told from the POV of Jacob, a person with such disturbing and sick thoughts, the character sucks in readers like a literary sinkhole. I thought this would be a tale about stalking and/or murder by an operator, but it's much more diabolical. The metaphysical aspects of Jacob's destructive plan is unexpected and brilliant writing on the part of Hecht.

I've never read anything like this...I highly recommend this short story to all horror fans.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Falling Apart

The Shed is a place full of memories. Memories of a tragic accident. For Steve, cleaning it will mean a chance to rid the horrors of the day he lost his son.


But there is something else in the shed. Something dark & evil that will make Steve question both his sanity and his grasp on reality.

The Shed by Paul Levas is a flash fiction piece about a father mourning the loss of his son to an allergy attack. The story replays the yellow jacket attack over and over, while glossing over details about the father-son relationship, as well as the husband-wife relationship. Levas had a good idea for a horror story, but the suspense is lost in the constant repetition.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 17, 2018

Special Needs

5...4...3...2...1. 

Mira McNair always counts it down. 

It takes twelve seconds to descend in the space elevator to reach the base station anchored to the ocean floor. 

Regimented, daily order keeps Mira's thoughts in line, and she has taught herself how to build androids. She hopes to use them to learn how to read human facial expressions and the proper sequence to social interactions.

However, when the I.S.S. collides with her atmospheric home, Mira must save her creations from a fiery explosion. 

What happens next surprises them all.

Twelve seconds is long enough to prove that compassion isn't limited to the human.


Three by Bokerah Bromley is a science fiction short about Mira's ability to adapt to different situations and the special creativity she shows. Brumley's use of misdirection is so smooth, I didn't even realize what I had read until the very end of the story.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who knows someone who struggles with social interactions.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Author Skips Through Story

A poignant short story about a young woman who longs to escape her dreary, hard working existence on a Caribbean island. With a baby daughter and irresponsible casino dealer husband, she is tied down to eking a living working tables in a local restaurant. When an opportunity suddenly presents itself, she is torn between her family and the prospect of elevating herself.

Funnels by Fay Knowles had a strong beginning and unravelled towards the end. From the description, I thought the focus of the story would be a difficult decision, a once-in-a lifetime offer or something along those lines. Instead, Knowles skips over the events following Annie's initial decision to enter a pageant and ends with a rather ambiguous scene with her husband Marco.

In addition to the sloppy writing, the characters aren't developed at all. There is barely any information about the family of three. I don't understand why someone would bother writing a story and leave out the crucial elements of storytelling.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Should Be Titled Run

I have no home. Not anymore. I live off the land. Hunt small game to survive. Set up traps for rabbits and squirrels. If I'm lucky, I'll even catch a fox. I have to move constantly because the Hunters hunt humans. I'm smarter than rabbits, squirrels, and foxes. The Hunters are smarter than me.

Hunt by R.W. Taylor is a flash fiction story which takes place hundreds of years in the future. Another species is now top of the food chain and humans are food. Some of the scenes made me think of the Predator movies, although I did wonder if Earth had become Planet of the Rats (instead of Apes).

While the urgency of the narration kept me interested, I feel too much time is spent explaining how the survivor hunts rabbits. I wish the story had begun with the culling of the 32 humans, instead of simply picking up where the lone survivor escapes.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Romance Story (I know, I'm just as surprised.)

Returning home from a disastrous ski trip, Jake is quick to trace Mel's hand in the welcoming touches scattered throughout his apartment. But when a closer look reveals more than she intended to show, Jake's world is turned upside down. Can he somehow prove to Mel that he's woken up at last, or has he lost the chance forever?

Love Blind by Angie Thompson is a love story, but not one of those mushy, over-the-top and unrealistic stories. Not to mention, this story is told from the guy's POV. Jake's epiphany about his ex-girlfriend, Danna, and Mel, the girl who has always been there for him, is something I think a lot of people will relate to.

We've all had the bad relationship we didn't know was bad until we got free of it, and it's easier to see others in a different light when we're not suffering from tunnel vision. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way. Luckily for Jake, a skiing accident gave him a clear view of the women in his life.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 13, 2018

Family Feud to the Death

Driven home by grief, Cole returns to his family after being away for five years. He soon discovers that his brother, Joe, is locked in a bitter feud with a family who wants everything he's built for himself.

As things begin to escalate and tempers start to flare, Cole finds himself pulled into a world of violence, hatred, and unchecked rage.

There are no heroes. There are no villains. There is only the worst in us.


The Worst In Us by Elias Witherow (read 2017 interview with the author here at the Lair) is a brutal family drama, with the push-down-the-stairs delivery the author is best known for. Witherow carefully lays out each step, with individual challenges and success of one family contrasted with the downward spiral of another, only to hurt readers with one impact after another, as the quest for revenge escalates between the two groups of brothers.

The author does an excellent job of balancing savagery with suspense while revealing just how far all the characters are willing to go to punish one another. There are many horrific scenes in this novel, but Witherow shows decorum and does not use the violence as a plot device. There is some misdirection here and there, enhancing the shock value when the truth behind the feud is finally revealed.

Proceed with caution, Witherow spares no one...

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Suspense Short Story

Jack Wrexall leaves his Heybridge home on a warm summer day - only to be embroiled in the sinister machinations of fungal antagonists.

Blackwater by Byron Black is a flash fiction nightmare centered around a young man named Jack. The story is similar in style to a Lovecraft tale, with the character's sanity slipping away in a countryside setting facing what appears to be a cult, as well as other mythos elements, but Black's idea of horror has limited interaction with the events presented within.

I think this story would be better in a longer format, with further character development and more intense action. However, Black does deliver the cosmicism.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sci-Fi Saturday Short

The colony ship known as the Vale has been spiralling towards Epsilon Eridani for four millennia, and Barry - the semi-sentient AI set to guard its frozen human cargo - has had a long time to question the nature of his mission. There are too many gaps in his code, too many mistakes left unfixed.

Could Barry's programmers really have been so lax? Or does he have a greater purpose, some secret mission buried in his source code? He has another eighteen thousand years to find the answer. In the meantime, he's growing bored, and idle hands are the devil's playthings...


The Last Broadcast by Christopher Ruz is a science fiction short story, but the thought process the A.I., Barry, goes through is horrific. I found Barry's conspiracy theories about the Scrubbers intriguing and I wish the author had gone in that direction. Instead, Ruz chose to go with a theme which is overdone and in the sci-fi genre and result in a predictable ending.

I did enjoy the author's writing style. I'd love to read this same story, but from the Scrubbers POV and with a different ending.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nothing Fun About It

Every family has a Funscreen on their wall. The question is... who's watching who?

When the government's new private welfare system begins rewarding unemployed viewers for watching the right kind of ads, Roger Birch welcomes a Funscreen into his home.

Like millions of others, Roger and his family soon depend on ad-viewing income for their survival.

Unlike millions of others, the events of one uncomfortable evening leave Roger aware of the government's shadier reasons for investing in Funscreens.

With HD cameras hidden behind a 60-inch glass veil, the answer was staring him in the face all along...


Funscreen by Craig A. Falconer is a scary science fiction prediction of what our future may bring, sooner, rather than later. This is also a depressing possibility as readers are shown how one family has all but fallen apart because of their dad's obsession with amassing credits for watching ads.

The stories steeped in realism are always the most horrific.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Don't Get Me Wrong

After a mass murder, an obscure and mysterious horror movie, available only on VHS, becomes the stuff of urban legend.

Brainrot by D.W. Nathan isn't much of a written story as it is a long, dragged-out one-sided conversation with the narrator, who isn't very good at telling a story. I think it would've been better if the focus had stayed directly on the three boys, but the timeline jumps in years and the storyline becomes fragmented. The ending is a huge disappointment.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

For The Love of Reading

Joel has spent the last five years building maps of an imaginary city to deal with his grief. Or at least he thinks it's imaginary, until someone writes to tell him they used to live there. To Joel, it's just a hobby - a way to blank his mind until he figures out how to move forward to his life. 

But then things take an increasingly strange turn - and a dark one.


Scienceville by Gary Gibson is a fascinating sci-fi fantasy short story, with traces of steampunk fiction here and there. Absolutely brilliant. The author needs to either create a short story series or write a full-length novel. The concept of Scienceville - the metaphysics behind it - is just too damn interesting to leave inside one story.

It has been decades since a story evoked these kind of emotions within me. Do you remember the first time you read some really grand fiction that wasn't part of a school assignment, and you fell in love with reading as a consequence? Do you remember the joy of having worlds revealed to your imagination through the printed word? Granted, I read this on my Kindle, but that same "Oh, I remember why I love fiction so much" feeling came rushing back.

If you've been feeling burned out on genre stories, or feeling like you've read the same themes over and over, you need to read Scienceville!

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Not all villains succeed at being evil. Not all diseases deserve the word plague. Fate can be ironic indeed. The chilling short story, The Giving Plague, follows microbiologist Forry, a self-proclaimed cynic, jealous of his “boy wonder” colleague who discovers a unique virus that could change humanity. Transmitted by blood donations, the virus manipulates humans toward altruism and charity. Forry decides that he will do anything to take credit for this discovery…until a more deadly alien virus infects the human race, forcing him to wrestle with his own inner demons.

The Giving Plague by David Brin is a sci-fi horror story about a non-violent virus outbreak which has deadly consequences years later. The science is fascinating, the fiction is horrifying, and, as any sci-fi fan will tell you, stories like this one have a way of predicting the future. How could forced altruism be a bad thing? Read on and see for yourselves...

As always,
AstraDaemon

P.S. This is one of those rare times I highly recommend reading the author's note at the end of the story.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Soggy Match

Charlie is a man who follows the rules. He is a man who is never late. He is a man who always obeys.

This is the most important day of Charlie's life, and he is running late.


The Hour of the Time by Vincent Hobbes is the second story I've read by this author and I'm thinking his writing style just isn't my cup of tea. This author seems to think being vague is somehow clever, but it's simply annoying.

Charlie doesn't like to be late, and, oh hey, there's a big mystery about what it is he's late for...and when it's finally revealed, no one will care because Charlie is annoying and this flash fiction is like a soggy match that won't burn.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Last Man Walking

A man travelling a broken world tries to make his way through the city, only to discover the world isn't quite as dead as he first thought.

The City by A.M. Halkyard reminded me a little of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Although a flash fiction piece, this story has a surprising amount of drama, action and suspense. The man's name is never revealed and readers never learn what events led up to this post-apocalypse, other than a mention of war. Halkyard does give a reason why the man is not likely to ever trust another person, which gives an important clue about his decision-making. Overall, this is a great social commentary on human behavior.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Vagueness Is NOT Suspense

A lone man drives into swamplands on a dark night. Far away from any civilization, he hunts for something mysterious armed only with a map. A series of curious and chilling incidences leave him wondering if he’s the one doing the hunting at all.

Tracking Darkness by Elliott S. Clark is a strange piece of flash fiction. The author spends half the story dragging out William's drive into the middle of nowhere, being extremely vague. When the reason for his journey is finally revealed, most of the action is limited to a vision, and the author remains stingy with details. With the ending being so mysterious, I'm wondering why Clark bothered writing this at all.

I think the story could've have been much better if the author had shared more of William's plan with the readers. I prefer Clark's story, Road Trip, over this one.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 3, 2018

Chains of Mountains

Runaway male slave fleeing across the desert is pursued by an android tracker.

Android Tracker by Abe Evergreen, author of the Dark City series, is a flash fiction story about the bittersweet taste of freedom. Sometimes the grass isn't greener on the side...sometimes the grass doesn't grow at all. Facing a harsh landscape, Ten encounters one obstacle after another during his escape.

The setting appears to be in a dystopian future of our world, with a reference to constellations seen from Earth. Almost nothing is revealed about the society Ten is fleeing from, but the hyper-focus on the slave and his fears creates an overwhelming level of suspense.

The ending is an unpredictable shock. I don't think the author intended it to be at all funny, but I had to laugh...for dark, ironic reasons. Evergreen definitely knows how to create quality science fiction.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Shallow vs. Deep

The depths are dark and treacherous for even the deadliest of predators, and what may appear to be prey may just be an even deadlier ruse.

A dark political thriller set in a feudalistic underwater kingdom. It is not a question of if, but when the madness will consume you.


Blood In The Water by Charles Hash is full of political intrigue, with characters making moves as if playing a game of chess. I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu while reading this story...I think this flash fiction drama is reminiscent of the fantasy fiction I loved so much in the 1980s. The use of non-human characters adds an extra depth, no pun intended.

This underwater family feud is very different from anything else I've read by Charles Hash. I'd like to see the author revisit this genre again. Perhaps a prequel novel revealing exactly how Agulia rose to power and the various ways his reign fractured the kingdom.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

When The Kids Fight Back

My family told me a story of a sadistic man, shrouded in white, who terrorized the children of Roanoke Road. They called him The White Man. That street has another secret it will not reveal freely.

The White Man by S.O. Bailey is a tragic short story about the kidnapping of a young girl and the efforts made by the neighborhood children to find her. Unfortunately for the children, there is more than one threat on Roanoke Road.

Bailey has taken something similar to an urban legend and used a creative mix of suspense and innocence to create a captivating campfire tale. I only wish the author had spent a little less time on Billy and more time on the previous sightings of the White Man.

As always,
AstraDaemon