The Caretaker: A Short Story by Jason Gurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seriously, Jason Gurley has got market share on the talent to terrify me as a reader. I’m sure I’m not alone – speak up if you agree! The Caretaker is a simple story sharing a glimpse into the life of Alice Quayle, a “caretaker” of sorts for an in-orbit spacecraft. She’s the one who goes up in between missions and takes care of the day-to-day needs of the ship. Light bulbs, oiling, etc. It just so happens that down on Earth, disarmament talks are currently taking place.
Disarmament talks aren’t always successful.
Alice watches as the world, quite literally, goes up in smoke. Now she and her only companion, a high-level AI named Eve, deal with the fallout.
Seriously terrifying, Jason. I need to remind myself to breathe.
The only reason this isn’t a 4-star review is because I’m confused what the goal of Alice was at the end. I can guess, but I’m NOT entirely sure I’m right, and I felt a bit disappointed that I wasn’t more clear, especially following excessive clarity for the entire story preceding.
Disclaimer: I received The Caretaker free for being a recipient of Jason’s newsletter.
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The Dark Age: a short story by Jason Gurley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am simultaneously crushed and uplifted by this short story. Jason Gurley is talented and his ability to tell a story, be it long or short, is reiterated by The Dark Age.
This story had so many elements: love, panic, awe, devotion, utterly bleak sadness, and even a little bit of hope. I felt crushed by panic and desperation in between moments of tenderness and sweet appreciation. Jason’s writing is so complete and layered so richly that all of these emotions co-existing makes perfect sense.
I admit I emailed Jason after I was done reading this and asked him if he thought he’d ever consider developing this story further, because I’m selfish and I want more. I’m not sure I could honestly handle the raw emotion his storytelling brings forth, but that’s a testimony to how good he is.
I received a copy of this short story via Jason Gurley’s newsletter.
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The City of Smoke and Mirrors (Armadillo Mystery)
Nick C. Piers
Mutant detective five foot armadillo private dick with a fedora. Check. Hardboiled fiction. Check. Mafioso and vigilantism. Check. It’s at this point you’ve either decided you’re intrigued or not. I’m hoping for the former.
Dilbert (his friends call him Dill) Pinkerton is our protagonist mutant private dick tasked with recovering a pearl necklace. The task seems simple enough until he has to go to Nevermore Bay; home of the Buzzardman and the (ugh) Buzzardmobile. With me so far? Good. Because there are quite a few nods to the comics and industry itself as well as to wrestling and some other acknowledgements. The Joker reference was very subtle (and if it wasn’t a Joker reference, then I totally over read into it :p). And then there’s Don Komodo and his goons chasing after Dill from a previously botched case.
Told in first person from Dill’s POV in this hard boiled fiction, we’re introduced to a variety of characters. Even the dog. The non mutant one. The characters are all over the top and what you would expect given the genre; all memorable in one form or another. No-one sticks out as a love to hate or a love to love character but it is fun to read about them.
The overall tone, setting, and atmosphere was well done, however, “City of Smoke…” is not without its errors. There were some minor typos and syntax errors as well as a one HUGE consistency flaw towards the end regarding the Buzzardmobile, but that’s neither here nor there. With or without the (ugh) Buzzardmobile, it’s an enjoyable ride.
Edited to remove self published comment per author correction.