Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 8

Two housekeeping items first:

1. I have discovered that Nicky mispelled another contributer’s name, whose story I have already reviewed, in both places that it occurs in the magazine. Ken Kuptis is actually Ken Kupstis. I have corrected the spelling of his name in my previous posts.

2. I have updated the blog page for this on-going review, including links to those stories that are available on-line for free. If you want to read those stories, you can simply click away.

Now on to today's reviews:

“Hell on Wheels” by Terry Lloyd Vinson

In this story, an estranged husband and wife engage in a late night duel-by-muscle-car, with predictably tragic consequences. This story uses an unusual story-telling style, which I was initially skeptical about because I don’t like gimmicks. Here is the beginning of the story:

“The road war begins:
The Time: One-forty-five a.m.
The Date: June sixth in the year of our lord nineteen-hundred and seventy.
The place: A two-lane frontage road just off I-40, two and a half miles east of
Cattamount, New Mexico.
The landscape (an overview): Flat roadway; the narrow shoulders of which are
dominated by desert flooring with a light gravel mix that quickly transform into steep,
sand-dune constructed drop-off’s on either side….”

Soon the narrative picks up, and it is told using a distant third-person omniscient narrator. The reader gets to see what is happening in both cars, to know what both characters are thinking in the same scene (the story is essentially one long scene).The ending of the story is told using two supposed newspaper articles about the events.

I enjoyed this story. It won me over and held my interest to the end. There is not much character development, and the prose style is terse; yet the mystery of who the two drivers are and why they have such animosity is well-done. For most of the story, the drivers are referred to only as Driver One and Driver Two. Clues to their identities are revealed during the narrative, but the relationship between the two is only finally revealed in the articles.

You can check out the story for free at Authorsden.

Grade: B+

“Rosh Hashannah” by Scott Meade

What’s not to like about a story that includes an angel smiting a drunk in the liquor aisle at Wallyworld? How about this:

“Billy picked up the remote from the end stand between the couch and the recliner where John was sitting. He pointed the remote toward the entertainment system and pressed a button, which caused the CD player to begin pushing the sounds of the song “Promise Me” by Straight Line Stitch through his Bose speakers.”

“He had offered to buy it from Billy on several occasions, but would always be promised that it would be given to him free of charge whenever Billy would decide to buy new furniture.”

“Fright had revealed itself through him as he recalled the photo that he had found on the Internet.”

“His heart was pounding as sweat immediately extracted through the pores in his face.”

“John and Billy were peaking around the corner when Samantha caught up with them.”

I can’t go on. I could copy and paste about 50% of the story here. I’ll summarize by saying that the writing is clumsy, simplistic, wordy, and immature.

The plot is basically three people - Jimmy (no last name), Billy (no last name), and Samantha (no last name) – who are amatuer ghost demon hunters discuss whether or not a series of seemingly unrelated, except for the manner of death, deaths are all the result of an angel. One character argues that the deaths started on Rosh Hashannah, and people being killed are committing acts from a list of sins in the book of Galations, therefore it must be an angel. Yes, my religious history may be shaky, but I’m still wondering what Judaism and the Christian New Testament have to do with each other. *sigh*

Our intrepid ghost demon hunters also discuss how unlikely it would be to find the supposed angel because the deaths are occurring all over the world. Then they run out of coffee. What to do? Head to Walmart for more and - lo and behold! - there is the angel! And he smites someone (the drunk), which is the only interesting part of the story. Security cameras and Samantha's cell phone don’t record the angel, just the drunk's gory death. Several days later Samantha turns up dead the same way. Huh?

Grade: D-

“Going Wild” by Christopher Dabrowski, Translated by Aneta Szaraniec-Sandecka

This is a strange little story about aliens of a higher consciousness that, I believe, has been translated from Polish. It starts out well enough with a psychiatrist hypnotising a patient as part of a routine treatment. This time, however, he asks her an unusual question while she is under – “who are you?” The answer is unexpected.

From there, however, the story lost me. Humanity goes to hell some years later, but the connection to the original scenes isn’t clear. I read the last pages again, but I still don’t get it.

Grade: D

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