Tag Archives: Short Stories

Time Crawlers

Collection of science fiction short stories

Content warning: suicide

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Image result for time crawlers

“Time Crawlers” by Varun Sayal is a collection of six science fiction short stories. The stories cover a range of themes from a subtle alien invasion (Eclipse), suicide for entertainment (Death by Crowd), a bureaucracy-obsessed magical being (Genie), time-bending beings (Time Crawlers), a powerful telekinetic (The Cave) and a super-weapon (Nark-Astra).

Sayal is a clear, engaging writer with a tongue-in-cheek style. Science fiction is often a very America-centric genre, and I really enjoyed reading another science fiction author writing from a non-European cultural perspective. I love the way Sayal weaves science and Indian culture together and peppers his stories with references to internet culture.

While I found Sayal’s stories very creative, several of them had a very similar ‘interview’ format with one person explaining a concept or idea to another person. I think that the ideas and the characters are definitely there, but I would like to see a bit more plot.

A fun and cheeky collection of stories that freshen up the science fiction genre.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Time Crawlers: Dystopian Science Fiction Stories around Time Travel, Alien Invasion, Dark Artificial Intelligence, Psychics

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Science Fiction, Short Stories

Capital Yarns Volumes 1 and 2

Canberra-based short stories for young and old

If you listen to my podcast Lost the Plot, you might remember me speaking to this particular author back in Episode 25 about short stories. More recently, I helped to launch his latest collection of short stories in a live podcast event. While I had read quite a few, and listened to more on his podcast, I thought it was high time that I finished reading both collections and sat down to review them.

2019-01-16 20-718787548..jpg

“Capital Yarns Volume 1” and “Capital Yarns Volume 2” by Sean Costello are two collections of shorts stories based in and around Canberra. Each story is constructed around three objects nominated by friends, family and members of the public which are highlighted in bold text. The stories range in theme, some more playful, some darker, some tackling modern social issues. In the second volume, printed in a slightly different format, the stories are arranged by age group and grow progressively more serious as the book goes on.

A Canberran born and bred, Costello’s love for the city permeates the pages of each book. Clearly a keen people-watcher, Costello brings to life stories of ordinary Canberrans in some well-known and not-so-well-known parts of Australia’s often derided but increasingly cosmopolitan capital city. Costello pokes fun at some of the stereotypes of Canberra including its politicians and its hipsters, but importantly his satire is always aimed at privilege and he never punches down. Costello makes a clear effort to showcase the diversity of Canberrans and some of my favourite stories are decoding the opposite sex and how i met your grandfather in Volume 1 and hey sister and delusions of grandeur in Volume 2.

Like many authors, I think Costello starts to hit his stride a little more in Volume 2 and I felt that the arrangement by age group lent an overall cohesiveness to the book that wasn’t quite there with Volume 1. I also felt that the stories in Volume 2 were a bit stronger overall and were perhaps a little less about issues, places and things were instead more driven by plot and characters.

Two lovely collections of heartfelt stories filled with Canberra pride that you can experience for yourself in written or audio format on Costello’s website.

Capital Yarns

Capital Yarns Volume 2

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Short Stories, Signed Books

(Adults Only) The Veiled Woman

Literary erotica by classic author

Content warning: sexual themes

A friend of mine has been introducing me to some feminist classics recently and bought me a copy of this book. I of course had heard of the author, probably most memorably through Jewel’s track “Morning Song“, which actually would be quite a nice accompaniment to this book. However, I have never read any of her work before, so again, thank you Kendall for continuing to expand my literary horizons.

20190102_185216-410769321.jpg

“The Veiled Woman” by Anaïs Nin is a small collection of erotic short stories. There are four stories in total and each one features young, accomplished characters who find an opportunity to explore their secret fantasies.

The interesting thing about this book is that although it is without a doubt intended to be erotic, it is incredibly literary. Nin writes with a delicate subtlety, relying on suggestion and inference to quickly build tension. Three of the stories are told from the perspective of women and one from the perspective of a man. The stories are quite playful, some with an unexpected twist or turn. Nin explores lesbian sex (Mandra), anonymous sex (Linda), voyeurism (Marianne) and power play, often placing one (or more) woman in a position of control and highlighting the strength and importance of female sexual desire. The stories were originally written in the 1940s and Nin without a doubt can be credited as a trailblazer for women in this genre. All of the encounters are very much consensual and the women are all very active participants.

It is a bit hard to critique erotica because it is a genre, like horror, that is designed to elicit a particular response. I think something can be well-written, but not necessarily good erotica, or vice versa. Of course, there is plenty of erotica out there that is poorly written and bad erotica (which, interestingly, seems to be awarded almost exclusively to men – though reading and writing erotica is of course very gendered). Although Nin is clearly an exceptional writer, and although these stories are obviously intended to be erotica, Nin lingers on the social detail of the stories and like your average novel, sex seems to be almost more a part of the story rather than the point. I think any erotic story needs to be a balance of the physical and the psychological. Nin’s stories in this collection perhaps teeter a little far on the side of psychological and could have done with a bit more lingering on the physical.

A book that was certainly incredibly risque for its time with exceptional writing, what it perhaps lacks in sexiness it definitely makes up for in compelling characters and scenarios. A very short book that is worth a read just for the historical value.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

The Veiled Woman

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction, Short Stories

Lost the Plot – Episode 25 – Short Stories

Support Lost the Plot
Become a Lost the Plot Patron
Subscribe, like and comment on SoundCloud
Subscribe and leave a review on iTunes
Follow Tinted Edges on Facebook

Show Notes

My Birthday Presents

20180505_172635-171261564.jpg

My book skirt!

20180620_2336432010339616.jpg

Enter a caption

img_20180406_003426_936205155988.jpg

My most beautiful book 😦

Murder in the Mail and Magic in the Mail
Felicity Banks’ Facebook page
Murder in the Mail Kickstarter Campaign
Magic in the Mail
Lost the Plot Episode 22 – Interactive Fiction

Street Library Interviews
ABC News Story – Curious Canberra
Lil Street Libraries
Lost the Plot Episode 9 – Street Libraries

Sekolah Gunung Merapi campaign
SGM’s facebook post
SGM’s website post
Lost the Plot Episode 13 – Books for the World
Books for the World website

Hugo Awards and
2018 Hugo Awards Finalists
1943 Retro-Hugo Awards Finalists

2018 Nebula Awards
Winners Announced
My Review of “The Stone Sky”
Peter S. Beagle newest Grand Master

2018 Stella Prize
Winner
My review of “The Fish Girl”
My review of “Terra Nullius”

2018 Australian Book Industry Awards
Winners
My reivew of “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow”

20 Books by Women that Changed the World
Full List

2018 Vogel’s Award
Winner

Nobel Prize for Literature
Canberra Times article

Diary of Anne Frank – hidden pages
CNN article

Upcoming Releases
“Any Ordinary Day” by Leigh Sales
“The Fall of Gondolin” by J R R Tolkein
NOT the Winds of Winter, by George R R Martin
“Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty

TV and Film Adaptations
ABC’s Shakespeare Retelling project
Choose Your Own Adventure
The Bookshop
The Secret Garden

Describe Yourself the Way a Male Author Would
Electric Literature article
Bored Panda article
Electric Literature Male Author Description Chart

Children’s Book Author takes on Fashion Giant Zara
9 News article

Fake News: Children’s Books NOT Banned by Victorian Councils
The Guardian article
Victorian Liberals Statement
SBS article
University of Melbourne page on ANU study

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2017
Full List

 

 

 

UTAS Law Library Book Disaster
The Mercury article
ABC article

Canberra Streets named after Librarians
Ten Daily article

Story Time From Space
Facebook page
Website

Things that Sean and I talked about:

capital-yarns
Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories
Stephen King’s short stories
“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King
“The Tommyknockers” by Stephen King (don’t read this, I implore you)
Road Dahl’s short stories
The darker side of Roald Dahl BBC article
“Go the F*** to Sleep”

“I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing that, only then does he take up novel writing.” – William Faulkner

The quote I referred to is often attributed to Mark Twain, but has apparently been used by many people. Mark Twain himself said “You’ll have to excuse my lengthiness—the reason I dread writing letters is because I am so apt to get to slinging wisdom & forget to let up. Thus much precious time is lost.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
“13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
“Decoding the Opposite Sex” by Sean Costello
Send in your requests to: http://www.capitalyarns.com.au/who/
“Capital Yarns” by Sean Costello
Definition of ‘yarn
I have also partaken in yarnbombing
“Hey Sister” by Sean Costello
Human Brochure Campaign
Mocan and Green Grout
Capital Yarns Podcast
Arranged Marriage for the Modern Indian Man Podcast
Audiocraft Podcast Festival
“Anzac Day” by Sean Costello
Trace Podcast
Serial Podcast
Evil Genius TV Series
Welcome to Nightvale Podcast
Hello from the Magic Tavern
This American Life
Birdman
“Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre
Biopunk
“Birdman” by Sean Costello

“The Anchoress” by Robyn Cadwallader

5 Comments

Filed under Lost the Plot

Artefacts and Other Stories

I received a copy of this eBook courtesy of the author.

Artefacts and Other Stories

“Artefacts and Other Stories” by Rebecca Burns is a collection of short stories. Set largely in the UK, many of the stories are set before, during or in the aftermath of World War I. These are stories of ordinary people with jobs, families, memories and traumas as much as they are about the people who have left them behind.

The short story is a tricky art form, but Burns’ vignettes are compelling. Each story tackles the delicacy of human life and the fragile beauty of love, and finishes on its own unique and poignant note. Burns uses objects and everyday events to explore the complexities of human emotion, and some of my favourite stories in the collection were “The Last Game, August 2014”, “The Bread Princess” and “The Greatcoat”. “Artefacts” also stuck with me long after I had finished the book.

I do think some of the stories were stronger than others. Burns has a real knack for capturing the tone of early 1900s England and those historical fiction stories about the tragedy and futility of war really stood out.

If you enjoy short stories, or are fascinated by World War I history, then I think you’ll get something out of these.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Short Stories

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

This book has been sitting on my to-read pile since my dad lent it to me at New Year’s. I thought the first eponymous story was just one of several short stories but it actually is more like a novella with several shortish stories afterwards. I toyed with the idea of just reading the first one, but the completionist in me won and I finished the book.

20170405_181712.jpg

“The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil” by George Saunders is a novella about a micro and fictional country called Inner Horner which is only big enough to hold one citizen at a time. The remaining six citizens wait their turn in the short term residency zone of the surrounding country of Outer Horner. One day, with no warning, Inner Horner shrinks and only 1/4 of the current citizen in residence is now able to fit. Opportunistic Outer Hornerite Phil declares this event an invasion and disaster for the Inner Hornerites ensues. Tacked onto the end of this novella is “In Persuasion Nation” which is a collection of short stories mostly centred around themes of advertising and television.

The novella is a really interesting story that walks a fine line between satire and surrealism. Saunders takes an issue of incredible complexity (border control), and simplifies it down into its most basic and wacky elements. This story could really apply to any place or any time (and I can think of a few places right now) where internal pressures outside their control force people to leave their country and some unlikely megalomaniac uses that as as springboard to ascend to power. Saunders is a very imaginative writer with a keen eye for the ridiculous. The rest of the short stories were a bit more of a mixed bag. I really enjoyed some of them, especially “my flamboyant grandson”, but some of the others were a bit too abstract or a bit too blunt in their messaging.

“The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil” is a timeless reminder that success shouldn’t be achieved by taking advantage of someone else’s misfortune. Even though this story was first published in 2005, it would have applied just as easily in 1945 as it does today.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Science Fiction, Short Stories