domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2014

Monster in the Mirror

This review refers to the first short story, Monster in the Mirror

I was looking around my Kindle list for a short story to read this afternoon when I stumbled across Monster in the Mirror by M. J. A. Ware. I thought I'd sample, it, but it was moving along at a brisk pace and before I knew it, I was finished!

The quick finish was partly because it is a very short story, 150 locations. We're talking about a ten minute read; good for a lunch break. It's difficult to write an entire, interesting story in such a short space, but MJA Ware pulled it off. There's a little gotcha at the end where I wasn't quite expecting the ending, but the setup was all there. Well done.

I hate to give a short story 5 stars because I really like a little more *meat* to a story, especially one that has pulled me in so well. The only reason I can think of to deduct a star is the short length and that isn't a good reason, so 5 stars it is.

Recommended for a quick Halloween read.

Note: The version I downloaded (I have no idea where or when) contained only the short story. The latest version on Amazon contains two additional shorts and excerpts from some longer works.

martes, 30 de septiembre de 2014

Breath of Heaven and Other Stories

I've read a number of short stories by Nancy Fulda. She's a very good writer with a range of talent from hard science fiction to humorous fantasy.  She's been published in some fairly big-name magazines, including Baen and Asimovs.  Many of her shorts are now available on Kindle and I've been taking advantage of that.

The Breathe of Heaven and Other Stories is a three-story collection that is science fiction rather than fantasy. I confess, I'm much more enamored of her fantasy stories than I am of the science fiction. The stories each have a moral and some lessons to be learned, whether dealing with aliens or artificial intelligence.

Of all the works I've ready by Nancy Fulda, this collection is probably my least favorite, but that is not to say it isn't good.  The stories in this collection all setup well, are well-told, and if you like Orson Scott Card, Heinlein or other deeply thoughtful science fiction, I think you'll like these stories.

The first story, "Knowing Neither Kin Nor Foe" is a cautionary tale about prophesies and loneliness.  Nancy brings the loneliness, even of an alien creature, right to the forefront.  It's a morose story, paced well and works through a bit of a mystery in a short space.

"The Breathe of Heaven" deals with the possible dangers of artificial intelligence.  It's nice to have machines available to do work for us...but it might be wise not to give them too much free time or too much power.

"In the Halls of the Sky-Palace" was my favorite of the three. It reminds us of the importance of dreams and also of letting go of the past. Sometimes when you're so focused on a particular success, you don't know what to do when you actually get there.

Nancy Fulda delivers these stories with a light touch, but they are not light-hearted stories by any means. This is the kind of story to read when you want something thought-provoking, perhaps when you're contemplating your future or wandering down the hallways of what-if.

The stories are excellent if you like thoughtful science fiction; that is, after all, one of the hallmarks of good science fiction.  Because I'm more of an escapist reader, I vastly preferred some of her other works, including Backlash (a great adrenalin adventure), or Hexes and Tooth Decay (humor!).  The mystery, Dead Men Don't Cry was also quite good.  All three of these can be purchased as singles or some of them are available as part of the "Dead Men Don't Cry" anthology.

Overall, I give The Breath of Heaven 3 stars just due to personal preference toward escapism reading.  The "Dead Men Don't Cry" anthology was a 4 star read for me--a really great mix of fantasy, escapism AND hard-hitting science fiction all in one.

~ Maria Schneider is the author of many a light-hearted tale including Catch an Honest Thief, a story that contains many tech gadgets, an adventurous mystery, and a romance rolled into one.