To take a break from writing Part II of my analysis of Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty, I thought I’d toss out another recommendation for those looking for a quick read. Today’s reading rec is ” ‘— All You Zombies —’ “ by Robert A. Heinlein.
Published in 1959, ” ‘— All You Zombies —’ ” is the classic science-fiction time travel paradox. Initially, the story seems mundane enough at first: it is set primarily in a bar as one character tells another his life story. But, as time travel stories tend to do, things are not quite what they seem and what begins as a simple, straightforward tale ends up bending through time and space (and the reader’s brain as they try to follow along).
I’ve mentioned reddit’s /r/WritingPrompts before, but for those unfamiliar it is a subreddit dedicated to writing prompts. Users will either post a writing prompt themselves or respond to another user’s prompt. Contributors are a varied group: some are beginner writers, practicing the new freedom of storytelling; some are more experienced, polishing the finer details of the craft. All are there to share their creations.
From reddit and /r/WritingPrompts, a few books have been born. Here are some examples of reddit authors:
Ryan Andrew Kinder, or /u/RyanKinder, is the redditor who resurrected /r/WritingPrompts from the ashes (or so the legend goes). Kinder has since published a collection of his best writing prompts.
Don’t use writing prompts? You might want to start. Writing prompts can be a good tool for authors who are stuck without a story to write about, or who want to do something a bit different and like the challenge of a preset scenario. From my experience with my novelette Two in the Bush, writing prompts can result in a genuine story which draws you in, a story you might not have come to without the prompt.
As reviewers have noted, these prompts are geared for a more science-fiction/fantasy crowd than other collections, so if you tend to write in genres other than these, this book might not be your style. But if those genres appeal to you, or you would like to look at prompts outside your comfort zone, Kinder’s collection of writing prompts might one for you.
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.
This is the final review in a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish.
The longest of all the stories chosen, T. K.’s “Township 7: Life continues, even as society changes.” [sic] is an exploration of global climate change and transhumanism as depicted through a report penned by an anthropomorphic purple dinosaur. Yes, the main character is an anthropomorphic purple dinosaur named Rex. Since this could be a decisive factor for potential readers, I emphasize this upfront because—at this time of this review—the book’s description and other reviews don’t mention this.
Rex is one of many Critters, a new form of mankind appearing after great advances in cybernetics make their existence possible. They are humans transplanted into an exoskeleton that morphs to match their inner “second self.” This half of the plot is very reminiscent of furries and what that group might look like with the technology to make fursuits a real extension, or replacement, for a human body.
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.
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.