A few of my favorite things: The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice’s Moon Colony Bloodbath (2009)

In 2009, The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice released Moon Colony Bloodbath. The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle described the nineteen minute EP as a “loose” concept album with a science-fiction theme: “Some of the songs have something to do with a loose rock opera/’concept album’ idea about organ harvesting colonies on the moon and the employees thereof, who spent their off months living in secluded opulence in remote American locations. Concepts like this are actually more fun when you abandon them but leave their traces kicking around, so that’s what we did.”

I discovered Moon Colony Bloodbath from this io9 article, for which I will be forever grateful. After I got ahold of the EP, I must have listened to it on repeat dozens of times in the first week alone (though that’s admittedly easy to do with something just nineteen minutes long). The first song, “Surrounded,” begins with the line “pale white moon shines down on Colorado,” and, at the time, I was in Colorado in winter. With its chilling theme, and Moon Colony Bloodbath was the perfect accompaniment for driving down dark winter roads at night.

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First contact: The Faculty (1998)

1998 saw the release of The Faculty, directed by Robert Rodriguez. Recognized as a mix of classic sci-fi films—including Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and The Thing—and in the self-aware style of Scream, The Faculty explores the invasion of a high school by alien beings who first assimilate the teachers, then the student body.

The Faculty touches on a fear of conformity and assimilation into an inauthentic life. The film is set in a high school, perhaps the most appropriate setting for such themes. High school is widely recognized as the time in which adolescents begin exploring different groups in order to define themselves as individuals. Wrapped up in this phase is the fear of conformity, of succumbing to peer pressure and placing the will of the group over the individual. For The Faculty, this fear is symbolically reflected in the threat of assimilation by aliens.

The Faculty (1998) Football team

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5 self-published Kindle short stories: an overview

Last week, I made an offer on reddit’s /r/selfpublish, calling for submissions of self-published Kindle short stories from which I could pick up to 5 to review. A part of my criteria for the stories I chose was fewer than 5 reviews on Amazon. As you might know, reviews and recommendations are important for getting your work noticed. Not many people want to gamble their money on something with very few reviews. And no reviews? Forget about it. I wanted to offer other authors the chance to get one of those initial reviews.

A bit about my process: I read what each author submitted, then used’s Amazon’s Look Inside to preview the first page or two of the story. Based on my interests and what I read, I tried to pick the stories that I thought I would most like. I read the stories in the order I purchased them, highlighting and taking notes within the Kindle text as I went. After I finished reading, I wrote my initial impression and some more substantial notes before moving on to the next story.

Finally, I wrote my reviews over the course of a couple days, taking my time to balance and polish each. I wanted to highlight positive aspects as I found them, but I also wanted to be honest.

So, without further ado, here are the five Kindle short stories I chose, and a summary of my reviews.

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Review: “Immortal Curse” by Scott Gardner Boyce (2015)

This is a continuation of a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish. Check back throughout the week for more reviews.

Immortal Curse by Scott Gardner Boyce (2015)Scott Gardner Boyce’s short story “Immortal Curse” follows an unnamed protagonist who discovers the secret of immortality along with the other six “Knights of Knowledge.” The king for whom they discover immortality dies and the seven decide to keep their knowledge of immortality a secret. Over the years, they separate and the narrator suffers the whips and scorns of time alone until he sets out to unite the seven Knights of Knowledge once again, this time in order to cure the curse their immortality has become.

The style in which Boyce writes “Immortal Curse” is very Lovecraftian. There is no dialogue, only narration. While some might be put off by a lack of dialogue, it does not seem to detract from this tale. In another Lovecraftian theme, the narrator dabbles in sciences before coming to what should be forbidden knowledge to create his cure for death. Predictably, the cure backfires into a curse as he watches loved ones around him wither and die from the passage of years while he remains immune. As he travels the globe to find his fellow knights, the story emphasize the age of the characters as they seek out new experiences to keep their unending lives from growing stale.

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Review: “The Last Ghost” by Dennis Liggio (2015)

This is a continuation of a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish. Check back throughout the week for more reviews.

The Last Ghost by Dennis Liggio (2015)In my request for Kindle short stories to review, Dennis Liggio pointed me in the direction of his “The Last Ghost,” a horror story narrated by a man setting his mother’s estate to order. This is a tale that slowly builds with each paragraph, intent on creating a chilling atmosphere

Since, as the title might suggest, “The Last Ghost” is a ghost story, the narrative adopts a Victorian tone to emulate the golden age of ghost stories. This voice is well-executed for the most part and helps immerse the reader into the narrator’s tale. There were some evocative descriptions, such as the narrator describing “my mother, but not as a young girl, but older, in the winter of her middle age” and “in that sound I saw rot, not the fetid diseased rot of plague, but the dry, gnawing rot of inevitable decay, the dust of a million men reduced to nothing.”

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