Sunday, January 23, 2011

Short Story Sunday - Jan. 23, 2011

1.  "Phantom Sense" by Richard A. Lovett and Mark Niemann-Ross
First Printing:  Analog, November 2010

One of the best Analog stories of recent times.  "Phantom Sense" deals with the return of a special ops soldier.  The science fiction element deals with using the soldier's brain to control insects.  The insects can be used as advance scouts.  The problems arise when the soldiers try to reintegrate into society.  Then one of them kidnaps the daughter of another soldier.  The authors steadily increase the suspense as the story races to it's conclusion.

The team of Lovett and Niemann-Ross put themselves on my list of authors to watch.

2.  "Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels" by George R. R. Martin
First Printing:  Vertex, December 1973

A group of archaeologists from the moon travel to Earth to see the effects of a nuclear war 500 years earlier.  Humanity has gone underground and established a new civilization.  Unfortunately, the radiation has sped up their evolution.  Most of the remaining humans are blind.  Their cities are threatened by giant worms.  Gael (one of the mutated humans) and his partner Hissig are a team who hunts the worms.  Hissig is a mutated rat.  When the archaeologists spot the rat they assume that Hissig is a monster.  The violence that ensues ruins any chance of a peaceful coexistence.
Martin does a great job of making the underground civilization seem real.  The character work and atmosphere are excellent as always in a Martin story.  He makes you feel the fear and sense of unease the characters feel.
Another highly recommended George R. R. Martin story.  He is one of the masters of the short form.

3.  "The Engine at Heartspring's Center" by Roger Zelazny
First Printing:  Analog, July 1974

This Nebula nominated story is classic Zelazny.  The Bork is created by an accident.  His story is the tale of his interaction with a human woman.  He makes every effort to appear human.  Like Martin, Zelazny is a master at making you "feel" a story.  He takes you into the heart of the characters.  This is one that can be hard to describe but easy to recommend. 

Highly recommended.

4.  "Remembering Melody" by George R. R. Martin
First Printing:  Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine, April 1981

"Remembering Melody" is a haunting tale that will stay with you for a long time.  Do not read it after dark.  Martin shows why he was the perfect writer to work on the Twilight Zone.  This story will make you think before making promises to friends.  You will never look at a woman named Melody without thinking of this story.  It is a perfect Halloween tale.   

Avoid the poor adaptation of this story on the television show "The Hitchhiker".  They did a poor job of capturing the mood of the short story.



Carl V. said...

Another great weekend of short story reading, Jim. I've read Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels. In fact, I believe it might have been my first experience with George R.R. Martin's fiction. It is very good. I'm interested in reading all the rest of these as well, especially the other Martin story which seems like a perfect story to save for a night when I'm home alone, or at least after everyone has settled into bed for the night.

adamosf said...

I share your love of both George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. I actually have the first issue of TWILIGHT ZONE with "Melody" in it, and it was a very unsettling story. I have numerous collections by both authors, and reread them periodically. Now you've convinced me to go back to one of them again--the problem is which one? :)

mnr said...

For your readers - Phantom Sense and other stories includes the entire story, as well as the companion article: "Phantom Science".

In addition, it also includes "A Deadly Intent", "New Wineskins", and "NetPuppets"

Available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble