Chat Me Up

Dating in Cyberspace by Thea Thaxton is a collection of five short stories about dating in Cyberspace. Readers should note that this was published in 2012; the speed of evolution of the internet makes the technology referenced in this short novel nearly obsolete. That is OK, however, because this is really an account of one woman’s experience with dating online. It is an examination of human behavior and different perceptions. Technology allows for different forms of display of behavior, but the basics of social interaction remain the same. Jealousy, who has the power in a relationship, different views of etiquette, resentment, anger, and disgust; all typical human behaviors play out on a new platform.

Humor, Humor, Everywhere

If asked, R. Scott Murphy would describe his collection titled Fun Stories Greatest Hits as fitting in the following genres: Humor and Entertainment, Parenting and Family Humor, Happiness, Romantic Comedy, Feel Good Essays, Parodies, and Word Play & Satire. The description covers a lot of territories, but Murphy uses forty stories to do it. The humor is self-deprecating, but also inclusive as Murphy posits the existence of communities such as Fun Stories Nation and MentalKickBall which include the readers and the author as the combination attempts to make sense of the ridiculousness we see around us every day.

What is a Well Woman Examination?

Me-Time Tales by Rosalind Minett starts out with a challenge. Am I qualified to read this? Billed as a collection of tea-breaks for mature women and curious men, I decided I could fit into the curious category. It was biologically impossible to fit into the first target audience and I had stumbled over “mature.” It is difficult for me to read a collection of stories without making comments on each one. That makes for long reviews. So …

The Devil is in the Details

Devils by Erik Henry Vick is described by the author as a collection of devilish short fiction. True, it is a collection of five stories. They are followed by four chapters of Errant Gods, a preview of a longer novel (730 pages) by Vick.

Electric Dreams

Electric Jungle by James K. Pratt is a collection of five short stories. The connection between the stories is in the collection title. Every story relies on some version of electricity. After reading these, you might yearn for a return to the Dark Ages.

Grunge as Entertainment

A first feature I questioned about The Grunge Narratives: A Rare Horror Collection by Nick Younker was, why Grunge? What…

Darkness in Everyday Things

Tiny Shoes Dancing by Audrey Kalman is a collection of twenty short stories. Kalman selects significant elements from primarily insignificant lives, the lives that don’t get a mention in the supermarket tabloids. Short stories are great; they fill time and are portable. There is no guilt in not completing them because you can always put off the pesky routine tasks which you know you have to do … right after you finish the short story you are reading. The stories in this collection are great because they make the reader feel important. We have all had some variation on these normal, everyday challenges. Well, most of them. There are some tales which are weird.

Haunted Malls

Tavistock Galleria is a collection of fourteen short horror stories by multiple authors. Their origin is “America’s Retail Wasteland.” (cover blurb). The stories are best read in order because of connecting threads that can pop up without warning that will tie a story to the one which came before. Or maybe two stories before. But let’s say you are familiar with some of the authors and want to skip to their contribution first. OK, it’s allowed; all stories can stand alone except the last one, The End of Tavistock. The last story won’t make sense without references found in all other stories.

Three Short Satires

These three short stories were sent to me by an independent publishing house promoting their writers. For the next week or so these three stories (there are others, but I was not attracted to their genres) sell on Amazon for USD 0.99 and are supposed to rise to USD 2.99 thereafter. I like stories such as these for my students of English as a second language. I must read everything I recommend making sure I don’t damage cultural sensitivities.

The blurb accompanying SYNCO™ by J.R. Kruze is this mouthful of run-together words: Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy. That could be two genres or four.

Per the title, the world is in sync, it is a peaceful place, maintained and monitored by social media. The largest social media concerns had merged to form SYNCO™. The idea was that everybody had signed the Terms of Use documents without reading them and in doing so had given up all rights to privacy. Then the organization had begun to homogenize language by defining and eliminating anti-social sentiments. What was left was social doctrine.

Orders: To Obey Or Not Obey?

Spin Drift by Lisette Kristensen is a very short story describing the culmination of Mossad training with an operational test. Pass the test and you graduate. Fail the test and it would not matter; candidates who failed died Is this realistic? Sure, it can happen but the conditions under which it would happen are more stressful than described in this short story. For fans of this type of story look at accounts of military teams operating on horseback in Afghanistan, actions on the part of Seal Team Six, some of which have inadvertently been declassified. For non-fiction from the past look at Five Years to Freedom by Col. Nick Rowe, a prisoner of the Viet Cong and NVA for the number of years indicated. Also look at the operation under the Carter administration to rescue US hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran. The Commander on the ground was Col. Charles Beckwith, the main inspiration for and leader of Delta Force. I mention all these things to give some credibility to this story. Fact (mentioned above) can be stranger than fiction.