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Search tags: short-science-fiction
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review 2016-03-25 18:55
Can you keep a secret?
The Initiate (The Rifters Book 2) - M. Pax

They say it's tough to keep a secret in a small town, but in Settler keeping a secret is a matter of life and death. That's because of the rift between the two obsidian columns. Unearthly things come through the Rift. The Rifters protect us from those nasties while keeping their existence secret.


Although she's a newcomer to settler, and hasn't even drawn her first paycheck as town librarian, Daelin is not only a Rifter but has also been recently promoted to Initiate. A lot has happened to her since losing her job and personal goods in New York. There, her boss betrayed her. Here, she's asked to trust the Rifters. It bothers her to be keeping secrets from her new teammates, but her life is full of uncertainties and it's difficult to know where to place her trust. Unresolved issues with family, friendships and teammates fill her head when she's not fighting for her life.


One thing I like about this story is the way it explores the main character's personal issues and back stories. Another thing I like is its location. If you've ever wondered what it's like to live in a small western town and about the secrets that small town people keep, you'll find out here, at least

fictitiously. It's a story filled with goofily repurposed gadgets, missing and temporally misplaced persons, and lots of sandwiches.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-03-12 18:26
Creeped Out
No Dogs in Philly: A Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir (Special Sin Book 1) - Andy Futuro


I picked up a copy for free on Amazon.  This book has more than 50 reviews, many quite positive. It's the author's only Amazon entry and the first of a series.


It lives up to its claim of being Lovecraftian cyberpunk noir. The detective noir is well realized, the cyberpunk, appropriate. As for the Lovecraftian bits … well, they creeped me out.


Our heroine, Saru, like many noir detectives, makes steady use of whatever alcohol she carries or comes across. She thinks this makes it more difficult to hack her implants. But it doesn't work. She's prone to odd blackouts and dysphoria. But that's understandable. What's attacking her is not of this world, and it wants to incorporate her, along with the multitude it already has.


This dismal dystopian story is creepier than a Bosch Hell and as conventional as psychotic delusions:


"Looking at his kindly old Santa Claus face it was almost impossible to imagine that he had just shot wires into her neck and sucked out her blood, that he was talking to her above a pit full of thousands of bodies in front of the cathedral of an alien death cult … "


If you like this sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy this book. SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't end like a detective story but in a literal Deus Ex Machina.

(spoiler show)


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review 2016-01-12 01:31
I robot. You robot?
Chinese Room - Martin Chu Shui

Although this interesting story is readably told, I didn't enjoy it much. I found the dialog unconvincing and several points overstated.


The title refers to a hypothetical method by which an artificially intelligent machine could convince a human that its intelligence was natural. In the book, robots were indistinguishable from humans because some humans had embedded chips enhancing their abilities. This seems unconvincing to me since it overlooks other ways of telling humans from robots.


I recently re-watched the movie, Blade Runner. Although it was made years ago I still find it convincing despite the cheesy way in which it presents genetic engineering. I had no difficulty believing that Replicants are intelligent engineered beings which exist in the distant future of 2019.


What makes Blade Runner believable is good world building. It's inadequate to simply state that the climate is over-heated and human extinction imminent. A reader must be shown, and not with garden parties that are indistinguishable from those of the present day. Better world building would have improved this book.


A final point: Although the author sometimes gets it right, he sometimes confuses intelligence with consciousness. This is forgivable because some scientific writers have made the same mistake. However, the two are not the same.


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review 2015-11-13 01:14
Liked the ideas, liked the execution, but where was the editing?
A Man Like Me: A Science Fiction Short Story - Austin Grisham

So, good idea, good general execution.   Bad editing. 


So let's get the good out of the way: it was a thoughtful story with a twist at the end that I simply did not see.   That author played this straight throughout, so it was a pretty big shock.   The narrative ploys were all incredibly well done. 


And then there was the grammar. 


"He had not seen much of anything useful than some twisted metal when he noticed a large silver crate, clearly battered by the elements, but nonetheless still intact."


Missing word. 


"These infernal brains of mine, why won't it let me know my past?"


Brain/it and brains/them.   But there is a definite issue here. 


"'Sort of like the other day when you thought those shadows and trees was a monster?'"


Were, not was.   There's a repeated pattern here, where the tenses and numbers of things don't match up. 




Choose where the period goes.   Use one per sentence, please. 


And I'm kinda freaked out about this review.   He's asking for Amazon reviews, but says this: 


"Your feedback is very important to me; I read every review."



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review 2014-08-24 14:01
Fairly good sci-fi story...
Counter Program: (A Science Fiction Short Story) - Chad Corman

It was mostly the mechanics of the writing that tripped me up; this felt like an amateur attempt, and as that?   It was decent.   The writing itself was legible, and grammar fine enough, but the dialogue felt stilted and there was more telling than there should have been. 


The idea behind it, though?  I did like how the author played with the server-robots, and how they couldn't lie to humans, and how they struggled with that.   How they struggled with if they were alive, or simply functioning.   There were a lot of really heavy ideas that are really ripe for further exploration here.   But this is one of the problems.   In a twenty page short story?   They weren't fully explored, especially given the writing level.   


Still, this is exciting.   I feel confident that this author will become more adept at dialogue, and showing.   If that's the case, then this story shows a lot of promise, and what he might write in the future?   Exciting.   Worth the read to say, 'ah, I read it back when...'

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