Book Title: Voyages: A Science Fiction Collection
Author: Carol Davis
Publication Date: February 4, 2016
Available on: Amazon as an eBook
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
The author has taken four of her short stories and novelettes and packaged them together here in one volume, showcasing her versatility by exploring short stories about dystopia, the apocalypse, time travel, and androids, spanning some of the more fascinating realms of science fiction. These are not your average stories exploring these different themes, as each one puts a nice twist on it, adding a lot of unpredictability, tension, depth of character and action. Let’s see what short stories await us, starting with:
“Escape” – Ben and Eli are friends, a couple of blue-collar workers living in a society tightly controlled by Administration. Their dreary daily existence is bleak and monotonous except for one hour in the theater, earned by compliance with the rules, where you get to descend into a virtual reality populated with whatever bliss you wanted, with some “common sense” regulations applied. But when those regulations are broken, those who do so mysteriously vanish, never to be seen again. What in the world is truly is going on here and what will happen to you if you break the rules? This psychologically suspenseful tale features wonderful world-building and when you blend it all together, you get a mind-bending thriller that culminates into an unexpected and remarkable ending.
“Excess Baggage” – Toby, a teenager who is bored while house hunting with his parents, all of a sudden is propelled through the air, thrown for what feels like an immense distance! When he lands, he meets someone, Asher, who initially appears to be truly weird but turns out to be much more than Toby initially thought. When the full story of what happened here becomes revealed, we see the extraordinary circumstances that brought this unlikely pair together. Their interaction and humorous dialogue really sparkle and the little clues doled out about what happened to them compels you to keep reading further and faster until all is revealed. A fun and fantastic adventure!
“While The Sky is Falling” – What do you do when you know the apocalypse is coming and you are helpless to stop it? Cando is a young man living in California who decides to live it up during his final couple of months, finding a luxury pad in a high-rise building. Along the way, he rescues an anxious young woman, Vanessa, who he barely knows, getting into a relationship together. Indulging his hedonistic side for reasons that eventually become clear, Cando has a darker past that’s gradually revealed as we get to know him better. But his limited future is thrown into chaos when tragedy strikes and the tension mounts as the end of days draws ever closer. It all concludes in an emotionally heart-wrenching and intense ending that was potent, deliciously surprising and completely unforeseen.
“Being of Value” – On a distant planet, an android named Matthew is assigned to escort two twin children of an alien delegation. Matthew is an android, only fourteen months old, still learning about the nuances of human behavior and is the first artificially intelligent being of its kind. When asked to entertain the twins, Matthew obliges and is eventually drawn into a series of dangerous tribulations; will he even survive this encounter? The pacing is crisp as Matthew’s terror mounts and the emotions are authentic and well-explored in this rich story that effectively captures the frustration we all have trying to figure out our own complicated feelings at times, which is truly what makes this story so richly engrossing.
The situation facing each protagonist is emotionally complex, creatively imaginative and thoroughly entertaining; it’s one of the many things that I especially enjoy about the authors writing. Not only do you vividly experience the main characters inner life; you inhabit them as if you are there with them at the moment, feeling their struggles, their heartache, their fear, and their joy. As a result, it draws the reader deeply into the emotions of each character through her stimulating prose that engages all five of your senses as we travel these captivating journeys with them.
One of these stories, “Excess Baggage”, was one I had read when it was originally published in The Time Travel Chronicles, an anthology filled with many more excellent short stories about time travel just like the one featured here.
This is a great collection at a nice price, where you get four of the author’s fantastic stories in one volume. Enjoy the sheer variety and innovative approach the author takes with each one!
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