From the Indie Side

My Review:

I enjoy a good story. To help alleviate my ongoing dilemma of finding good stories, Michael Bunker, one of the featured authors in this anthology, provided me an Advance Review Copy of From the Indie Side (FTIS).

FTIS is an eclectic anthology of short stories, written by some of the premiere names in the indie author movement. Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe not. Either way, the authors, for one reason or another, decided to self-publish their work, not going the “traditional” publishing route. This freedom of movement adds to the dynamic nature of the anthology.

Like any good collection of shorts, FTIS offers a wide range of styles and genres. From the looming planet on the cover (also designed by one of the authors-these guys and gals are talented), you get the impression that sci-fi is a common thread throughout the collection. While this is the case, sci-fi is where the similarity begins but also where it ends. Just as every author has their own voice, so every story carries its own unique vibe. If you’re looking for quirky, it’s there. You’ll also find young adult, post-apocalyptic, dystopia, and urban fantasy. Maybe even a vampire or two. Even though these terms can help define sub-genres, they only paint a one-dimensional portrait of the quality of writing. True to the indie initiative, the stories defy pigeon-holing into a simple genre or sub-genre. They are dynamic and entertaining, crossing conventional boundaries of typical, formulaic stories. That is the heart of indie. If this is what you’re looking for, then pick up a copy (download to Kindle) of FTIS.

What’s more, I enjoyed the author comments at the end of each story. Some talk of the inspiration for their story. Others provide a hint of an underlying idea woven in the fabric of the words (you know those authors, always planting subtle ideas in their stories). Each one speaks with pride for their work. You can feel the care and passion they put into their craft.

I have my own tastes. I liked some stories more than others and liked some writing styles more than others. But then, isn’t that the beauty of anthologies? You get to try and experience a wide range of authors. But as a whole, FTIS is a worthwhile, entertaining investment. So if you’ve heard of indie authors and have wondered what the buzz is about, then grab a copy of FTIS and see for yourself. You will not be disappointed, and you will mostly likely end up with a list of many more authors to follow.

No. 38

Review:
I downloaded this on a recommendation from Michael Bunker. I figured since I’ve enjoyed Michael’s writing, I might enjoy this.

This is the first work I’ve read of Kevin G. Summers. It won’t be my last.

It is a story of a man finding a rare comic book. Well, that’s the basic storyline, anyway. There are no explosions, no alien encounters. But there is more to the story than you first think. Like any good fiction, there is the story, then there’s the story within the story. That’s the one that makes you stop and think. No. 38 makes you do that.

While not giving away the story, I can say this is as good as any other literary fiction I’ve read. What’s more is the limited words Kevin uses to get the idea across. Kevin G. Summers gained a new reader in me, and I look forward to reading more of his work.

There are a couple of instances of cursing in the story. Otherwise, enjoy a quick, fun read.

Against the Rising Force

My Review:

For the sake of transparency, I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a binge of dystopia lately, but decided to take a brief interlude and read Endi Webb’s Against the Rising Force (AtRF), the first of a short story trilogy, set in the Pax Humana universe. We are thrown in the story following Jacob Mercer on a galactic spaceship. He oozes testosterone. “Fast motorcycles, faster women, and blazing fast fighters” is his self-proclaimed motto. We see him on the brink of a great battle, and follow him through tense combat as he flies against a mighty Imperial fleet. The story is quick, and the action is plentiful.

Endi defines AtRF as a space opera. I agree with that. I would even add sweeping to that definition. The battle is on a massive scale. Think Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer, X-Wing and Tie Fighter massive. You can tell from this first story that Mr. Webb has plenty of fodder for many more stories in this universe. His writing is crisp and clear, non-stop and action-filled. There is some crude language and a few curse words. The violence is typical for space battles, such as exploding ships. No gore.

If you are looking for a quick read with plenty of action, then consider picking up AtRF.

Futurity

My Review:

By now I have read several Michael Bunker stories. So when I saw Futurity on sale, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m glad I did.

The story is about Malcolm, a college-age man with a burning curiosity to learn about time travel. He gets to meet a couple of professors who enlighten him on time travel. But what he discovers when he visits one of them will put in motion events beyond his imagination.

Michael tells the story first person, through Malcolm’s eyes. The narration has a journal entry feel, a conversational tone, to it. But this is fitting because the story begins with Malcolm interviewing professors, scribbling notes. Michael takes plenty of words to explain how time travel might be possible to the point you start thinking it is plausible. I guess that’s what good stories do for you.

As a Christian and a reader of sci-fi, I’ve developed thick skin when reading fiction. Many stories take concerted efforts to attack religion and Christianity, either directly or indirectly, which is fine, because (for whatever reason) the author felt it important. Michael takes the opposite approach, incorporating aspects of a Universal Creator in a fictional, entertaining story. It’s refreshing.

Even though I typically steer clear of time travel (time zones still confuse me), it seems like many stories I’ve read lately deal with it. In the case of Futurity, it was enjoyable.

Pennsylvania 2: Non-Electric Boogaloo

My Review:

Pennsylvania: Episode 2 – Return of the Jedediah

I think my subtitle (based on a successful 80’s movie) for the second Michael Bunker short story I’ve read is cool, but not as cool as Non-Electric Boogaloo.

Michael ratchets up the action by 10 in the second installment of the Pennsylvania series. We find our young Amish hero fully immersed in the events of New Pennsylvania. Without giving too much away, he finds himself in a strange world where foreign forces are battling, using technology that is foreign to him. Why they battle, he doesn’t know. How he fits into it all, he doesn’t know either. No one is telling him anything, but one thing he does know is that he’s important, and people are risking their lives to keep him safe.

Michael’s prose is strong and clean, adding needed detail to tell a full story but leaving out the purple. He does well developing his characters as the story moves along. In all, Michael delivers in this second release to the Pennsylvania series. If you’ve read the first, get this to see where the story goes. If you haven’t, go buy the first and read it, then buy this one.

A Rumor of Angels: A Tor.Com Original

My Review:

I found this short story in Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition: A Tor.Com Original. As of this posting, it’s still free.

A Rumor is the first story in the book, so naturally I read it first. I expected a cheap Sci-Fi story, what I got was a literary treat.

It’s of a boy during depression-era America, like the blurb states. Even though there is a tinge of fantasy in the story, the narrative is of the boy and his stormy relationship with another uprooted family also travelling to the west. It transcends a simple fantasy. It’s a story of deeper meaning, of a boy coming to his own in a world that teeters on panic and hopelessness. But as long as the rumors of angels exist to the west, there may just be some hope left.

This is the first Dale Bailey writing I have read, and I enjoyed it. He is a master of words and bleeds his characters onto the page. I will see what else he has to offer. Hopefully he has some post-apocalyptic fiction. I would love to see him write PA in his grand style ;).