Artificial vs. “Real” Intelligence

Tales From the Mosspark Universe by Neil Mosspark is a short collection (660 locations) of five short science fiction stories. I downloaded it free from Instafreebie and stored it in my short story file to read in traffic jams that occur daily during the rainy season in my part of the world. Both traffic jams and rain occur daily in Indonesia for up to six months.

  1. Room Two It was New Year’s Eve and no time to be alone. Yorick resented Janice for leaving him alone to clean the lab. But Yorick wasn’t truly alone.
  2. The Train Who said history can’t repeat itself? The workers in this story know how to make progress count.
  3. Item A21-R83.03 Lina had a feeling for machines. It seems like she was the only one in the lab that was so gifted.
  4. Crash This is the scariest story. The control and type of life that survived the crash has changed. Think of an extinction of a species.
  5. Job Offer Sometimes it’s good to be small. Olivia could go where the heavily armed men could not. This time all she had to do was get in and out of the building. If successful, she would get food. Things worked out better than she had hoped.

This is a good travel companion collection of short stories. There is nothing so shocking that the reader will abandon his travels to complete the collection. At the same, there are a few minor surprises. I am sure I will attempt more of Mosspark’s short stories.

It’s Harvest Time

Final Thoughts by Jaxon Reed is a very short story (261 locations) given to me through the Instafreebie platform which aggregates writers and encourages them to do book giveaways. Readers who download from the site will many times have the opportunity to register for the author’s personal website and mailing list. A reader who finds the site interesting and plans to download a lot of the short stories and novels should consider creating a dedicated email for the Instafreebie service.

Our narrator in Final Thoughts is not long for this world. Convicted as a terrorist and sentenced to die, his choices are few. He can accept lethal injection, a firing squad, or the guillotine. Doc has convinced our narrator that he has developed a chip that will record thoughts and feelings into text. Doc wants to implant the chip in our narrator’s head so that Doc can study the genuine feelings of a person experiencing death. Doc encourages our narrator to choose the guillotine. Not only will Doc experience the chip reading at the moment of execution, Doc will also be available to parcel out undamaged organs to those awaiting transplants in hospitals. Doc assures the execution will be painless; our narrator agrees.

On the way to the execution chamber, our narrator overhears Doc in conversation with prison guards in which there is disagreement expressed about the painlessness of the procedure. Our narrator feels betrayed. Prison officials just want to harvest organs. What can the narrator do as the execution time draws near?

Read this very short story to find out who got the last laugh.

No Tears for Death

At Horizon’s End by Chris Sarantopoulus is a short story of approximately 24 pages that I purchased on Amazon for USD 0.99 after reading The Man Behind the Bar. I want to warn you that this is a very sad story. Don’t wake up and read it on the morning of a day in which you want everything to go well. This is not a motivational story.

This is a story about Death. There are a lot of people at Stella’s house today for a ceremony in remembrance of the recent death of Stella’s mom. Such celebrations attract relatives and friends who stand around somberly and either weep or tell fond stories of memories with the recently departed. The telling of the stories provokes more weeping. Stella isn’t weeping. Dad and Nanny have assured her that mom has gone to Horizon’s End, a place we can all see at dawn and at dusk. She is sure her mom will come back but is not sure of the when.

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Dystopian, Fantasy, & Cyberpunk Tales

According to Neil Mosspark, author of Tales from the Mosspark Universe: Vol. 2, the following short tales are backstories to different parts of the Mosspark Universe. The author claims that you need no knowledge other than that contained within the short stories to enjoy them; they are all stand-alone stories.

This collection does what it was designed to do well, spur interest in the more complete treatments through novels of this fantasy, dystopian, cyberpunk world. I will be interested in reading more about Olivia and Abe (the first two sections) but cyberpunk does not work well for me as a genre. Two out of three isn’t bad.

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The Wand Has It

For those that think a cover has little to do with a reader’s selection, I beg to differ. How could I pass up a title like Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey? This is like finding a whole new subculture. I found the cover tastefully provocative. No, I won’t explain what that means.

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