Anthology Review: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: John H. Dromey

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science Fiction

Pages: 5 (117-121)

Thoughts:

In Search of a New Wilhelm is a less impressive rip off of Alien. It’s five pages of awkward, barely realistic dialogue between one unbearable individual and another. The beginning makes little sense, the characters just sort of appear in a place together and the author tries to string together an excuse for how they got there. The author gives little descriptive information outside of the dialogue. In fact, the author does very little outside of the long diarrhea of chatter between the two characters, with one doing more talking than the other. There is absolutely no emotion in this piece. None. I hate bugs and Alien freaks me the hell out, but this story only makes me feel revulsion that one of these sick bastards is sicker than the other.

This short story barely makes any sense. I can barely call it science fiction because while it does deal with extra ordinary creatures they aren’t described, none of the tech is described, and there’s a brief mention of a top secret organization that barely plays a role in this story. The author’s voice is barely present. The description in nonexistent. While I don’t mind a lot of dialogue and I understand some stories must be driven by it, the dialogue here is just so awkward and robotic that it’s not very enjoyable.

Rating:

1/5

In Search of Wilhelm was a major miss for me. While the idea has some value, if you like the concept of Alien, the delivery was lackluster. Some people may enjoy this short story, and I would only recommend this story to people who like bugs or the Alien series. If you don’t like either of those things, then I highly suggest you skip this one all together.

Advertisements

Anthology Review: Breach (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Breach (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Justin Coates

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science-Fiction, Paranormal

Pages:  7 (68-74)

Thoughts:

After reading this short story the first thing that comes to mind is Hellboy. Main character is a large mysterious man that unsettles people, he comes from a mysterious agency, and he gets called to investigate really freaky cases that are beyond real…Yea, that really sounds like Hellboy!

Anyways, I found this short story to be quite enjoyable, though it didn’t freak me out as much as I had hoped. I still squirmed a bit while reading, though that’s because this story has a bit of descriptive gore that my mind had fun (but not for me) recreating the scenes. This to me definitely read like a gory scary story rather than an honestly frightening one. If this were made into a movie (or some other form of visual media) then I would be scared witless from all the carnage, but to read it doesn’t translate the same for me, at least this time.

Other than the less than chilling impact of the story, Breach is still a fantastic short story to read. It’s a little slow in the beginning as the author sets the stage, but after the first page it picks up rather quickly until the end. There’s not a lot of science, just weird devices and concepts that aren’t explained fully and that you’re supposed to take at face value. There’s lots of action in this short story, and the author does well to keep sentences short and description simple to keep the mood and pacing brief.

Rating:

Overall, Breach was an interesting short story that I flew through and enjoyed immensely! Though I didn’t find it terribly frightening, the writing is well crafted and easy enough to follow. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Hellboy and similar works, gore, and more paranormal-esque stories. Breach does have a bit of historical content which may intrigue some readers; personally, I found it rather (enjoyably) surprising. If you aren’t much for detailed gore and death, then I would suggest skipping this one.

5/5

Anthology Review: The Damned Thing (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Damned Thing (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Ambrose Bierce

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science-Fiction, Classic

Pages: 6 (19-24)

Thoughts:

The Damned Thing was originally published in 1893. I believe that in that time, this story was frightening. However, today the terror in this story has been done many times in Fantasy and Science-fiction literature, to the point where the idea of such a creature isn’t novel any more.

At first it was hard for me to get into this story because I felt no draw to read further. While old, the story is well written and easy enough to follow once it gets going. However, I didn’t really care for the style in which the meat of the story was told. I have a love-hate relationship with dialogue in any story because the amount of appropriate dialogue varies with each story; there’s no specific formula or word count to follow, it’s a hit or miss situation that not every author gets right. With that said, I found that there was way too much dialogue in this story. Most of what happened in this story is told through dialogue as one character reads his account for what happened to a group of old men. It didn’t sit well with me because I think the story would’ve been scarier to read as the events happened, not from a survivor recounting his tale to strangers. Again, back in 1893 this story would still be freaky, but overall it left me shrugging my shoulders and saying “so what?” because it was just a story of a second hand account of what happened.

Rating:

2/5

While the author’s overall writing is well composed and almost lyrical, this story sort of fell short with me. I wasn’t chilled or even a little scared. It was interesting to read a story over a hundred years old, but to me it felt like the sands of time rubbed away the frightening quality of The Damned Thing. People of older generations or lovers of classics may still find this piece enjoyable for what it is. As for me, I thought it was an interesting idea and gave me some pause to consider the evolutionary steps involved to make such a creature.

Anthology Review: Ecdysis (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Ecdysis (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Rebecca J. Allred

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic, Science Fiction

Pages: 7 (12-18)

Thoughts:

I’ve never been one to read horror stories before, but I wanted to give it a shot when I realized what kind of horror I could get into. I didn’t know what kind of horror story Ecdysis would be, other than it would be chilling and science related. Dr. Allred works in pathology, so I knew that if anything else, this story would have some basis in science and boy did it!

In this short story readers come across a man who is obviously disturbed in some way. Some people may take offense to a mentally ill character being the story’s subject, calling foul about misrepresentation and fear mongering. I can assure you though, that this short story isn’t what it first seems. The author takes their time to slowly pull away the layers of mystery behind the character’s supposed illness, by using the character’s medical background to describe what doctors have deduced about his condition. The author gives the readers real medical terms for the character’s afflictions, some of which I’m quite sure I butchered, but does a wonderful job explaining what they all mean in layman terms.

The story didn’t take long to read, and not just because of the few pages. It was rather fast paced and divided into short sections of various lengths, going between his visit with his therapist to the various important pieces of his past. Normally such back and forth would annoy me; however, this was done in such a way that suggested he was revealing all these things to his therapist, slowly peeling away at the mystery of his character. As I devoured each word my skin tingled and itched, just like our nameless man, and by the end I wasn’t so much surprised by what happened but utterly freaked out by how easy the author transitioned between real and disbelief.

Rating:

4/5

Ecdysis definitely made my skin crawl by the end, making my skin itch even as I write this review sometime after reading. The beginning was a little hard for me to get into, but overall it was a fantastic read! I loved how the author seamlessly inserted real medical terms that didn’t confuse the readers or break up the flow of the story. Again, some people may take offense to the nameless character being mentally ill, but this story is not what it seems and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety before laying down judgement. Other than that, this short story was wonderfully written and sure made me squirm!

I would recommend this short story, and author, to anyone that enjoys a little science mixed into their horror. And for anyone with a strong feeling toward insects, either negative or positive, I will warn that they are also a focus in this plot so tread lightly!

Book Review: Carve the Mark

imageDetails:
Title: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 438

Synopsis:

In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand, she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Aks is desperate to get this brother out alive—no matter what the cost. Then Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship—and love—in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

My First Thoughts:

I was really excited to hear that Veronica Roth had written a new book, because I absolutely loved the Divergent series. However, I’ve been hearing awful things about the book, not about the plot, but about the characters and racial relations. I walked into this series trying to have an open mind, but also trying to be aware of the criticisms that I had heard.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I’m unsure about those criticisms that I heard… I find it hard to whitewash or portray a negative bias toward characters whose physical descriptions consist of “can see his veins through his skin,” and “has dark shadows crisscrossing over her body,” or “large and lean,” and “small and fast.” Also, everything in this book takes places on a planet that is not Earth, they aren’t even referred to as humans at any point, so I feel like that is also a point against the criticisms that I had been hurting.
That’s not to say that racism and classism are not heavily explored themes in the book. There are two primary races featured in the book, the Thuvhe and the Shotet.

The Thuvhe are a race that exists on a frozen planet and believes in peace and love and the power of the the current, while the Shotet are a race looked down upon by the entire space system as violent scavengers due to their traditions and practices. Much of the book is spent with the main characters, Cyra and Akos, learning the truth about each other’s culture and seeing the beauty in the cultures that are not their own.

This book was a little more on the “Space Opera” side of science fiction than hard science fiction that has a lot of scientific explanation, which is awesome because that is more of what I am interested in and enjoy. I don’t need to know how it works in too much detail, I just need to understand that it does. I was drawn in by the characters of the series, captivated by the elements of the world, and I never felt stunted by the plot of the book. This book is 438 pages and has a standard sized font and I finished it in just a couple days.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a cool story, I thought the cultures were diverse and fleshed out, there was no point where I felt anyone was one-dimensional, and I never felt like I was being told everything going on. It was a cool story that pulled at my heart strings several times and kept me engaged throughout.

Rating(s):

4/5

I really did enjoy this book. I would recommend it to anyone who has a budding interest in science fiction, or simply is interested in a “where two worlds collide” type of story. I am excited to read the next installation of this story.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

 

Book Review: Binti

 

Synopsis:

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

My First Thoughts:

I’ve been meaning to find and read this book for a while and I can’t remember exactly how I was introduced to it. I haven’t found a whole lot of afrofuturism in literature and I wanted to read more about the genre and to broaden not only myself but my library. So when I saw this book the other day I snatched it up and tried reading it as soon as possible.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

This story was very interesting to read and it presented some topics and ideas that will take me some time to fully digest and absorb. Binti was not quite what I had expected when I first discovered it.

The beginning of the story was definitely the strongest part of the novella. This is when you are not only introduced to Binti, but you’re also introduced to her people and her culture. You learn that the Himba are the best at creating futuristic astrolabes and that they’re taken advantage of and mistreated by the Khoush. This narrative, to me, seemed to be a commentary on possibly the history or relationship between African and European people. The Himba and the Khoush aren’t at war with each other, but they’re not necessarily on good terms either.

As the story progresses the story begins to lose its strength. Major events happen to progress the story forward, events that should’ve had a devastating effect on the readers and Binti. However, one of the major events seemed to fall emotionally short. I understand that with a novella that you have limited time to convey a story, but I felt that not enough time was given to developing emotional attachments between the readers and the characters and the other characters to Binti. If done correctly, emotionally important scenes could’ve been told in just a few sentences or even a single paragraph that would’ve added so much to the pathos of the story.

This was an interesting coming of age story because it tackles the question of who is Binti. From the beginning she questions her decisions and what kind of person would they make her. As she continues on her journey she wonders who she is without her people, who she is as a Himba and not. Then by the end she still doesn’t quite know who she is but she accepts that she is more than just her people’s traditions. This was an interesting journey because of the added element of her people. The Himba are very traditional, something that I haven’t seen in a lot of coming of age fiction, so the traditions and the conflicts associated with them made the story more unique.

Rating:

3/5

This story was very unique and interesting to read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read soft sci-fi literature, afrofuturism, or just wants to read something different. Overall, Binti was entertaining and thought provoking. I really enjoyed the concept of the Meduse, which were pretty much Space Jellyfish, but I also felt that they weren’t really developed. In the story they’re seen as ruthless killers and then suddenly they’re described as honorable with no real reason, at least not a memorable one. The science in Binti is very limited, not much is really explained and you just have to accept that it’s real, which makes this a soft or lukewarm sci-fi. I think this story would have been stronger if it were longer, and not considerably longer either. A lot of emotion was lost that could have been saved with a few well-placed sentences. Other than that, the coming of age story was unique because of the added traditional background of the Himba, making Binti’s journey different from similar stories. I’m curious what happens in the rest of the series, so I’ll be looking forward to reading more about Binti’s journey.

Details:

Title: Binti

Author: Nnedi Okorafor

Publisher: Tor.com

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Science fiction, Afrofuturism, Coming of Age

Pages: 90

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Comic Book Review: FCBD Lady Mechanika

Synopsis:

Introduce new readers to this steampunk bestseller, which has been remarkably successful with female readers as well as fans of the popular steampunk genre, with this FCBD special that includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I’ve seen Lady Mechanika floating around at the various comic book stores that I’ve been into and I’ve been interested in reading about her for a while. So when I saw this edition I decided to finally take the plunge and see if this dark, steampunk lady would suit my fancy!

Ratings:

Art: 4/5

I really liked the art. Everything was well drawn and detailed. You could see the detailing in her outfit real well, specifically on her vest. The patterns on the vest were faint so that it didn’t distract from the overall scene, but you could see it well enough to give her clothing a distinctive and authentic feel. The action scenes weren’t too congested with unnecessary lines, sounds, etc. that would draw you away from what was happening. Some of the facial expressions were a bit too dramatic but overall the people looked decently designed. My one complaint it that Lady Mechanika looks to have Barbie’s proportions. I understand how corsets work, they make the wait look thinner and the boobs stand out more, but her body just doesn’t look right. Overall the designs, detailing, and the colors are fantastic.

Story: 4/5

I really enjoyed the intro to the character, it was enough to a good glimpse at her personality and what drives but still leaves you wanting more. And boy do I want to read more about this dark, mysterious heroine! The other two previews to the later volumes were interesting, they were shorter than the excerpt from the prologue. I think I would have enjoyed the other two more if I knew more about the story and they were just too short. I’m really curious as to what happens in those volumes now, but I wish there was a little more to let me know what to expect. Either way, I’m interested in reading more from this series!

Overall: 4/5

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer: Joe Benitez

Art: Joe Benitez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Lettering: Josh Reed

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 28

Genre: Mystery, Science-fiction, Teen, Action, Steampunk