Stories for the Masses

The mutterings of a half-mad Canuck who writes stuff

Month: July 2016

Human 76 – Behind These Walls

I may have mentioned before how much I love Alex Brightsmith’s writing. I have, in my possession, a short piece she wrote for an Anthology Club anthology that never made it out the door. That piece of writing still haunts my dreams. To the best of my knowledge, she’ s still not published it elsewhere, and I consider myself very lucky indeed to be among the few souls to have read it.

That other piece of writing was quite short, more sketch than full-fledged story, and yet still managed to evoke such a profound sense of melancholy and longing that it has stayed with me to this day. I thought that maybe it was the brevity of the other piece that lent it its poignancy  but here, in this longer and more fleshed out narrative, I felt the same feelings; loss, poignancy, wistful remembrance… I’m not sure exactly what to call it, but Alex is an absolute master at evoking those feelings.

It occurs to me, by the way, that I haven’t exactly been reviewing the stories in the traditional sense. I’ve not been giving much in the way of plot or character details. Partly this is because these are short stories and there are only so many details you can give before you’ve given the whole story away, and partly because I find it more interesting to talk about the feel of the story than the bones of it. But I feel like I should at least make a nod towards that sort of thing, so:

This story centers around Chrissy, an old acquaintance of Glint from the last story. The events of this story and the last happen at the same time and, in fact, the two stories share some of the same plot elements, albeit from different viewpoint characters. Chrissy is a blast survivor, and has kept herself apart from the new world as it has built itself back up. She is forced to confront the walls she’s built for herself to keep the world out (the walls in the title are metaphorical ones), and to question her wisdom in building them in the first place.

Oh, and a character dies.

The feeling I’m always left with after reading an Alex Brightsmith story is one of sadness. Pleasant sadness. Optimistic sadness. Bittersweet, contented sadness. The sadness of what might have been. She really is one of my favorite writers ever.

The book is available at Lulu.com in paperback and e-book formats. The e-book is no longer free, but all proceeds from either format go to Water is Life, so you should buy it. It is also available at Barnes and Noble as paperback and for the Nook, and at  Amazon (paperback only, e-book coming soon).

Human 76 – Glint

First, let me say that Michael Wombat has a real gift for flavor.

This story gives us our first real glimpse of what civilization looks like after the end of civilization. I’m kicking myself a little bit for not thinking to give Ghabrie a Geiger counter… or a flipping bicycle. It seems so obvious in hindsight that bicycles would be the predominant form of long-distance transportation in a post-apocalyptic world, and yet it never occurred to me to include a single one in my own story.

Glint, Lauren, and David are all great characters; well defined, distinct, and sympathetic. Without getting too spoilery, I hope to see the ones who are still alive at the end of this story again in the book. That would make me happy.

I’d write more about this story, but the next one in the book was written by Alex Brightsmith, and I love her writing more than just about anything so I’m off to read it now. Suffice it to say that Wombat has written an exciting, adventurous story with compelling characters and a satisfying, oh-my-god-damn-you-for-killing-that-character kind of ending. No seriously, Wombat. Damn you.

The book is available at Lulu.com in paperback and e-book formats. The e-book is no longer free, but all proceeds from either format go to Water is Life, so you should buy it.

It is also available at Barnes and Noble as paperback and for the Nook, and at  Amazon (paperback only, e-book coming soon). I really think you should go get a copy.

Human 76 – Where the Wild Things Are

Ah, the plot thickens. Now we have factions pitted against each other. Nick Johns‘ story is fast paced and introduces us to a broader vision of Ghabrie’s world. I’m still not sure if Laura and Jake were human, animal, or one of each (I suspect the latter) but it seems the lines between the two groups are blurrier than they usually are. The hyper-intelligent monkey was an interesting twist, as well.

As a fellow contributor I knew the basic information we were all given about the Prometheans. I’m becoming more and more interested to see what my fellow conspirators have done with them. While reading Nick’s story I had to keep reminding myself, I suspect not for the last time, that he hadn’t read my story when he wrote his. The stories in this anthology were largely written in isolation from each other. I understand from what the other authors have said, however, that they fit together remarkably well given that fact. So far, that seems absolutely to be true.

 

The book is available at Lulu.com in paperback and e-book formats. The e-book is no longer free, but all proceeds from either format go to Water is Life, so you should buy it.

It is also available at Barnes and Noble as paperback and for the Nook, and at  Amazon (paperback only, e-book coming soon). I really think you should go get a copy.

Human 76 – Follow the Leader

This is number 2 in my series of reviews of the stories in Human 76.  What I aim to do is write a review of each story as I read it, one every 2 or 3 days. Of course this, the second story in the anthology, is the one that I wrote, so a review doesn’t make much sense. For this one I think I’ll just talk about the process of writing it and maybe share a snippet or two.

(Also, it has been more than 2 or 3 days since the last segment because… reasons.)

This anthology project came along at a critical time for me. I won’t get into specifics, but I was feeling overwhelmed by a few parts of my life. I was really struggling, and the process of completing the most recent Anthology Club project had made it crystal clear to me that my vision for that part of my life was seriously flawed.

Also, I wasn’t writing.

I had any number of ideas and numerous projects in various stages of development – 5 novels, 6 or 7 short stories, and a collection of four linked novellas, in fact – but I couldn’t seem to get anything written on them. Nothing really excited me, and I couldn’t get into putting words on pages. But when this idea started popping up in one of my writers’ groups, given how cool the concept was and who all was involved, I knew I had to get something written for this book.

And I did.

Eventually.

I got my story in two days after the third and final absolutely last deadline which, by the way, had already been extended a couple or three times by that point. Michael Wombat should have declined my story and told me to  buy a calendar, but thankfully he didn’t. Perhaps he sensed how important it was for me to get in on this book. Maybe he’s just a really swell and relaxed kinda guy. Probably both of those things.

(As an aside, in addition to being a group of great writers who write fantastic and entertaining stories, the other authors in this anthology are also some of the kindest, most compassionate and caring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. True story.)

At any rate, given my own personal struggles in following my writerly ambitions, and in writing this story, it’s no real surprise to me that my story for this anthology deals so much with themes of redemption, and tying off the past so as to move on with the future. I just hope I can be half the badass I’ve portrayed Ghabrie as being.

I said I’d include snippets, but there isn’t really one part of the story that stands out more than the others for me. This story seems to hang together more, is more tightly wrought than my other stories. Or maybe I’m still too close to the creation of it to pick out favorite bits.

There are a few lines that I quite like, that I pulled out as suggestions for T-shirts or posters or somesuch down the road, so I will include them here:


At the moment she felt like a pampered house cat who had just been caught marking a tiger’s territory.

It was time to face the demons of her past.

“I’m afraid you won’t have any time for experiments. You’ll be too busy being dead.”

“You can’t run from me. You aren’t nearly good enough to run from me. ”

“I don’t read the future. I make the future.”

“What is wrong with you people?”

You can never be completely free of your past, but you can certainly decide how much it affects your future.


My story for this book is tense, and a bit dark, but ultimately it’s about hope and redemption. It’s also about one seriously kick-ass young lady who is determined to make her own future.

 

The book is available at Lulu.com in paperback and e-book formats. The e-book is no longer free, but all proceeds from either format go to Water is Life, so you should buy it.

It is also available at Barnes and Noble as paperback and for the Nook, and at  Amazon (paperback only, e-book coming soon). I really think you should go get a copy.