Daily Science Fiction: June Review

written by Frank Dutkiewicz

At the time that I am writing this, DSF has passed its first year of publication. No news has surfaced on whether it is now a SFWA qualifying market. With a subscriber base of over 2600 and website that receives 10,000 visitors a month, I can only imagine that it is the-powers-that-be have yet to do the necessary homework to determine what most of us know already; they’re one of the most widely read speculative fiction venues out there right now. Some may consider their growth slow but I am finding it remarkable considering its expansion has been a grass roots type of campaign. Word is gradually spilling over, links are shared, and ecstatic authors announce their success to this new outlet.

Daily Science Fiction is the way of the future. The higher ups just don’t know yet. If you are still not sure, then check out this month’s reviews and go to their site and read them yourself.


The Stories

An explorer searches for a lost party in “V is for Vamonos” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 6/1). The nameless protagonist braves the jungle to find the Colonel. The Colonel is ill and his camp has been overrun. Has it all been for naught?

This story is set in a world in which animals can speak and have become partners with humans. Other than that I cannot find a redeeming quality about this piece. The story goes nowhere and resolves nothing. I couldn’t even decipher what species the protagonist of the story was. The tale was like the setting, lost in a jungle.


Death has come for the protagonist’s beloved husband in “Dealing with Death” by Brenta Blevins (debut 6/2). She is there when the dark angel arrives to take him. She strikes a deal and accompanies Death as he runs his rounds.

“Deal with Death” shows the grim reaper as a compassionate soul, using his power to relieve the pain the dying suffer. All pain is not so easily seen. The angel aims to spare some of pain that is yet to be received.

The story has a fitting end. Although the tale didn’t wow me, it left me quite satisfied that I read it.


An inconsequential man awakes to learn a time-traveler has come to kill him in “Apology” by Sam Feree (debut 6/3). A young woman from the future sits on his new couch in her muddy shoes, informing him he is the one person in history whose life matters none. He has become the stress reliever for a time traveling society, getting murdered thousands of times. They spend the day together, contemplating life and enjoying it to its fullest.

“Apology” is a dark comedy. I found the two characters very likeable. The time traveler is a fun girl who has had a bad day the day before. The protagonist is a detached fellow, taking the news of his upcoming murder quite well. You get the feeling that learning his life is, and will be, unimportant as a justification of a suspicion he always had. The story evolves into a romantic comedy, without the romance. We follow the pair around Chicago. The soon-to-be-dead hero just rolls with it all. Resigned that he will be murdered and accepting it as an eventuality.

The story line to “Apology” does sound weird but the tale comes off as normal. The two treat the entire affair like a first date, rather than a tragic horror that it should have been. I found Sam Feree’s writing style attractive. The story was easy to follow and enjoyable to read. Maybe it was because I found his protagonist easily identifiable (I hope not). If you are one who detests romantic comedies, this one likely isn’t for you, but overall, I found it not a bad tale at all.


“Sister” by Melissa Mead (debut 6/6). Sister and Brother flee from their cruel Stepfather. The pair take refuge in a cave near an enchanted stream. Despite her warnings, Brother drinks from it and transforms into a deer. He now must avoid the King who hunts in the woods. Perhaps Sister can protect him yet, pleading with the king.

“Sister” is written like an Aesop tale. The story has that halting and disconnected feel to it. The characters have names that our pronouns and the story jumps through long stretches of time. However, like an Aesop tale it has a moral and a fitting end to it.


A man opposed to a fascist society is prepared to perform a mutual assured destructive act in “Dharma Dog and Dogma” by Steven Mathes (debut 6/7). The authorities have busted down Dobbin’s door. He waits with his trusted German shepherd by his side and his thumb on a nirvana bomb. The device will instantly ascend all who are worthy to heaven in a kilometer radius. Potts, the fascist negotiator, is eager to stop him.

I found this premise to be ridiculous. The bomb does two things; bring awareness to all within its range than make all who are worthy vanish. It causes no other damage. I would think a society eager to control would welcome its use, seeing that it instantly rids all who oppose it off the map. I did, however, enjoy the writer’s way of bringing the piece to us. His writing is crisp and engaging.


A disgraced prisoner is found by his warden in “W is for When” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 6/8). Future violent convicts are sent to the past, made female and expected to become upstanding citizens. The warden is disappointed to discover the future felon has made prostitution her profession. She learns the practice of gender switching and exile has been declared cruel and unusual, but taking a job that is considered illegal does not bode well for her. The warden can overlook the indiscretion, if she is willing to do him a favor.

This was one of the better stories the quartet dreamed up. Loved the concept of the future time travel punishment. What made this one great was the poetic justice ending. Recommended.


A junkie constructs his dream woman from a discarded photo in “Building a Future” by Rhonda Jordan (debut 6/9). The protagonist finds an old picture in an abandoned house. He makes up stories of a fantasy past and tells it to others until he finds a female junkie who used to build androids. The pair work together to build their android, gradually forgetting their drug dependency as they create.

The tale is told as a success story. It was, but came off as disconnected success story. The distant feel made this piece not as appealing as it should have been.


Aliens seek to improve our favorite pet in “Made of Cats” by Judith Tarr (debut 6/10). Another invasion from space befalls on Earth. This time the alien’s motives are peaceful. They transform our cutest partners into something even cuter, as a demonstration of their good intentions, proving that even the best marketing sometimes overreaches.

“Made of Cats” is written as a humorous piece. Expect anything else and you’ll be just as disappointed as the protagonist’s five-year old daughter in this tale. I must admit, the story had its moments (the diet crack I found particularly amusing), but I felt it stepped over the line of funny and into the ‘generally silly’ territory half way through. Nevertheless, humor is subjective and subjectively speaking, Ms Tarr did well, but as a guy who likes to weave tales that tickle the funny bone, I can safely say my sides were never in danger of splitting.


Modern progress has come to a potion-maker’s home in “The Thinning” by Christopher Owen (debut 6/13). Becky is not happy at all when the power company arrives to link her house with the electrical grid. She sees no need for it and its very existence is a disruption to her potion creating.

Without elaborating, this tale is woven while Becky is in the middle of a love potion. The two events , making the potion and the arrival of modern convenience , have little to do with each other. The ending of the piece has a twist that mattered little to the overall plot.


In “The Clex Are Our Friends” by Mario Milosevic (debut 6/14), you are a soldier in a galactic war. The story is a manual intended to help you with the occupation and mopping up duty on the planet Cleck. It advises you on how to treat the native species and adapt to their culture. Take heed of its advice, even when it doesn’t make sense.

This satire of military and diplomatic protocol is more ridiculous than humorous. The manual is written as a pep talk, even when its very pages makes the world seem like a tour guide through the slums of a third world nation. Not a fun place at all.


A wizard misinterprets a want ad in “X is for Xylomancy” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 6/15). A Xylomancer shows up for an audition for a xylophonist. It appears they have little use for a sorcerer whose gift is to predict the future by reading sticks but the Xylomancer is out to prove them wrong.

When I read this I thought, “Really? Working for a band is the best this guy can do?” I have chastised many stories on DSF for being about nothing. This story falls in that category but it deserves praise. Sometimes pointless tales can be fun. This story was fun.


June’s reality is up for interpretation in “Blivet for the Temporal Lobes” by Dave Raines (debut 6/16). June’s life changed the day an experimental surgery cured her epilepsy. Her mind now sees people and things as metaphors of their true nature , transforming them how her brain perceives them. Threatening people become horrible monsters while the kind and caring turn into softer images. Her world has become an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ kaleidoscope equipped with modern day cultural references. June has learned to adapt to her revived life, accepting her ‘gift’ as a way to see how people really think and behave, until the day a man walks into her life who doesn’t change at all.

“Blivet” is a very inventive tale. Despite its short length, Mr Raines effectively plunged the reader into a world most of us would consider a hell. June’s ability appears to have a psychic quality to it, or at least June assumes it to be as such. She somehow manages to keep her job as a waitress, even when customers morph into wolves, mannequins, and other similes that fit how she perceives them. A man she refers to as Adonis is the lone exception. His failure to transform unnerves her, and turns this tale into a metaphor of its own.

“Blivet” is the type of story for everyone who was suddenly faced with doubts in their own ability. June has come to rely on her gift, using it to see how people feel and grasp at how they treat others around them. Adonis represents her shortcomings and salvation in one package.

It was while I wrote this review, it dawned on me the larger meaning of this story. “Blivet” is not just a well-told tale; it’s a metaphor on human perception. I found it ironic how a story of metaphors so effectively hid one of its own. I hope those who judge which tales of speculative fiction are the outstanding ones in next year’s awards, don’t overlook this one because of its length. Recommended.

Humanity adjusts to a plague of undead in “The Three Laws of Zombie” by Lavie Tidhar (6/17). Susan Hobbes is in search of a zombie who doesn’t obey the three laws that are ingrained in all zombies. Society has come to grips with them, creating religions and rationales for their make up and psychology. Ms Hobbes isn’t interested on how they fit into humanity. She wants to know if they are here to end it.

“The Three Laws” is part satire, part horror, part mystery, with it all mixing like a stew of milk, water, and oil. The story line is disjointed; jumping from action scene, to an article, to a character’s inner contemplation. The title and loose plot devolves into a half-hearted comedic attempt involving Isaac Asimov’s three laws governing robots. The story is difficult to get into. The changing scenes of small slices of society made it impossible for me to get grounded into the plot. One thing I did find interesting was the nature of Tidhar’s zombies, an evolutionary leap as a plant/animal hybrid, allowing them to survive on photosynthesis. The tale is unpredictable with an ending I wasn’t expecting. In fact, I’m still not sure what that ending was about.

Based on Lavie Tidhar’s ability to get his stuff published in almost every publication I have reviewed over the past year plus it is clear he has a following and is able to impress any editor he presents his work to, but I just don’t get it. One thing I will say is he has certain appeal to his writing. His stories do draw me in and his plots are unpredictable, but they almost always lose me before the end. One of these times he’s going to write something that I love; unfortunately, this one ain’t it.


A man on a forsaken world wishes to connect with God in “Godless” by Stephen V. Ramey (debut 6/20). All the worlds of humanity have been linked into the Wholeness, save Earth. Man’s home world has become a worldwide slum, a primitive backwater. The Wholeness is seen as a link to God by the protagonist. He is approached by an off world tourist, a woman who seeks to get dirty on the filthiest of worlds. The protagonist wants to be touched by God, no matter what the cost.

“Godless” is an idea that is taken from A C Clarke’s axiom that advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic to a more primitive society. I liked Mr. Ramey’s approach to this notion, well done; however, I felt the story was too brief to fully explore a future where off world technology outstripped Earth to this degree. Perhaps the author has intentions on building on this. I would like to see his next publication if he does.


A terminally ill John has awoken from a cryonics sleep to be greeted by a brother he never had in “His Brother was an Only Child” by Ronald D Ferguson (debut 6/21). When John Ashley died, he left a dying world. The one he has returned to appears to be rebounding. Enough trees have grown to make a forest, a strange creature called a ‘rabbit’ now has a population of a thousand. The planet appears to be on the mend but the caretakers of the hospital he is confined to are off. Save for his brother, everyone is distant, refusing to speak to him. Another patient shares the ground with him, deformed and shy. John finds it increasingly odd this hospital he is in and wishes to rejoin society again but learns recovery may take more time than he has.

This tale is reminiscent of an old Twilight Zone episode (not going to say which one), but the twist reveal in this story was done far cleverer than that crafty tale. Mr. Ferguson did a splendid job, providing enough clues so when I got to the reveal I was shocked that I didn’t know what was going on all along.

“His Brother” was masterfully done. Recommended.


An ill woman is surrounded by yellow in “Y is for Yellow” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 6/22). The protagonist’s husband has moved her into a home painted in yellow. Everyone who comes to see her is clothed in the school bus color, even the grass is killed to rid it of the green. Her husband has said it is necessary for her cure. Green calls to her, but yellow stands in her way.

This is a clever superhero story, like none I have ever read. The sex of the protagonist threw me off, but it is story line that is too good for the comics. I loved it.

“Y’ isn’t the best story the quartet wrote, it’s not even the best this month, but it impressed me. Recommended.


Angering your time traveling girlfriend can result in unfortunate consequences in “Love at the Corner of Time and Space” by Annie Bellet (debut 6/23). Darrin has been abandoned at the Crossroads of Time and Space. It’s not first time he has made Ashley mad but it is the first time she failed to come back to get him. The surreal corner is nowhere with access points to anywhere, the problem is Darrin has no idea on how to access them. He can continue to wait for her in this place where time isn’t a linear measurement, or find a way out for himself and a way to repair their relationship.

“Love” is the story of man who hasn’t yet grown up. It is clear Ashley is the one in control, and she is vindictive woman with the ability to send her naughty boyfriend into the ultimate time out. The story starts off with Darrin and his passively aggressive, self-pitied attitude stuck, wondering if Ashley is ever going to come back. The rest of the story is Darrin contemplating what he’s done wrong, just like a spoiled child in ‘time out’ would do.

The only appeal of this tale was the setting, a strange and surreal place, but I found its lone character not likeable at all. It sounded like his girlfriend pulled all the strings in their relationship , a narcissist with too much power , but his whining self-contemplation made me think he deserved her.

“The Artwork of the Knid” by John Parke Davis (debut 6/24) is the story of an alien species who have quietly come to live among us. The Knid are small and unassuming creatures. They’re slimy with tentacles for mouths and are intrigued with us. The silent creatures (silent because they don’t speak) have become something of a new age immigrants, performing menial labor work. They appear to absent of any creativity or imagination of their own until the protagonist is granted a rare artistic viewing.

“Artwork” is a strange type of tale. There is a deeper meaning to this piece but I confess it missed me. Part of the story briefly touched on what the knid where doing on Earth. The characters puzzle on this subject, not remembering when they first appeared. An explanation on how they got there wasn’t even explored. From what I gathered, they were just ‘there’ as if they always were.

The tale shifts when the protagonist’s first views a knid’s ‘play’. The event sounded more like a psychedelic trip than artist’s creation. Strange by description, religious by the effect it left on the protagonist. From that point on, the protagonist becomes something of a minor activist for the knid, treating them as a big brother would a smaller and weaker sibling, doing his best to protect them from a cruel world.

“Artwork” is a tale that drew me in. I was genuinely intrigued by the writer’s presentation of the knid and his protagonists perspective of them. I truly wanted to learn more about them. However, like the story itself, once I learned all I could about them, I discovered they weren’t all that interesting after all.


A knot connecting two ladders slips on Hevsen’s ladder, setting in motion a chain of events resulting in the “Fall of the City” by Daniel Ausema (debut 6/27).

“Fall of the City” follows a trail of innocuous circumstances. The story is set in civilization built on webs with machines called ‘spiders’ used like cars. The entire place appears to be overly fragile. I wasn’t sure if the city I was reading about was set in a steampunk genre or an alien civilization.

I thought the tale was told from way too distant of a perspective. The place also was strange, lending to a general disconnect I had with the piece.


What could be a bigger thrill than space jumping from a space elevator? In “Freefall” by Eric James Stone (debut 6/28) we find out. Gina loves to freefall. Her brother and father run the elevator but she is after only the thrill of the jump. Then disaster strikes. The asteroid counterweight breaks free and her brother is on the crawler on the way up. GeoTerminal 1 will be saved but at her brothers expense. She is his only hope.

“Freefall” is excellent science fiction. The premise is based on a future but likely technology with a potentially real problem. The story is quick and thrilling. The protagonist’s solution to the problem I found clever. My biggest complaint was its length. The story could have and should have been larger. It would have likely been fantastic instead of great. Recommended.


Anna is running in “Z is for Zoom” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 6/29), but is she running from something or in search of the thing?

This tale baffled me. Anna just runs. Why? Couldn’t really tell you. There are hints but I was unable to decipher the reasons from them.


In “The God of the Poor” by James Hutchings (debut 6/30), the gods pick who and what they will have dominion over. Only one item is left. Who will look over the poor?

This is a very short, Aesop like tale. It didn’t quite work for me.


ÂThis month marks the end of the Alphabet Quartet’s contributions. I have greedily reserved all the stories for myself to review. The entire series is set to be available soon at Escape Artists. Some of them I thought were wonderful, a few left me scratching my head, a good bunch I recommended. My personal favorite was the first, and longest of the bunch; “A is for Arthur”. This story is high on my best-of list for the year. In fact, it may be # 1. It is worth reading again.

Special note: My fellow reviewers (James Hanzelka, Dustin Adams, and Anonymous) have not abandoned me, nor did I forget to credit them for reviews they have done. This month was all mine but the next will be mostly theirs. I have just received my copy of the latest Writers of the Future. I plan on doing my usual review for the publication so set it upon myself to get all the June reviews done while piling July’s on my minions shoulders so I can turn my attention to the yearly anthology when it came in.


Frank feels like a big boy now, doing a whole months of reviews all by himself. He is so proud but is wondering when he will get his cookie.

Daily Science Fiction: March Review

written by Frank Dutkiewicz

Oh, oh. Falling behind once again. Not Daily’s fault. The quality of stories is still first class. See for yourself.


The Stories

The cold is creeping in, in “Snowfall” by Jennifer Mason Black (debut 3/1). Cassandra and Tosh have thrown the last log of an enormous pile of firewood into the wood-burning stove. As they watch the embers die and feel the stove go cold, the siblings reminisce about happier days.

“Snowfall” is a tale of two people that have come to grips with the inevitable. The exhausted pile of wood is a symbol of evaporated hope. The two have made peace with what is about to happen – panic and sorrow long gone for them both – as they become the only attendees of their own wake, choosing to remember the life they shared.

I liked this story. I found it accurate for how two people would react in this situation. The disaster that has happened is unknown but it doesn’t matter to these two at this point. Well done.


Millie waits for her bus in “I is for Inertia” by The Alphabet Quartet (debut 3/2). The protagonist sees her everyday, knitting away, at the bus stop. She is there when she boards and there when she departs. Millie is eager to board but she isn’t just waiting for any bus.

Millie may be crazy but the protagonist can see her reasons as philosophical ones. The bus she is waiting for has a destination that we all are eager to get to. This letter, like some of the other Alphabet stories, has an open ending that left me unsatisfied.


“Surface” by Thomas J. Folly (debut 3/3 and reviewed by Anonymous).

A society lives for thousands of years under the crust and a pair of intrepid young adventurers defy the warnings of the elders and set off to climb to the surface to get a look at the Eden that waited for them above.

As usual, things don’t work out the way they plan (of course!). I must say I didn’t like beginning of the story where a lot of background information was dumped, but the ending was good. A good twist, well delivered.


The use of large, multisyllabic words can, at times, be off-putting, meant solely to disseminate the intellectual acuity of the author. In the case of “Epinikion” by Desmond Warzel (debut 3/4 and reviewed by Dustin Adams), a mouthful in itself, the use of complex words and language was fused so expertly within the narrative that they enhanced the very tale itself. I am reminded of M.T. Anderson.

The story tells of the man who is responsible for cleaning a post victory (or post defeat) battlefield of its Anglo-American corpses. Also in his job description is to retrieve salvageable weapons, and collect dog-tags. He does this with grim determination, and a singing of old battle tunes – to block the sounds of the not-quite-dead-yet fallen.

The details I leave you to discover, and I do recommend you discover them, for this story takes an interesting twist when, due to mechanical difficulties, the Cleaner’s enemy counterpart is forced to land and perform his similar duties simultaneously.

Their meeting is the plot of the story, the character is the heart, and the language is the song. Definitely read this one. Recommended


“God’s Gift to Women” by Barbara A. Barnett (debut 3/7 and reviewed by Dustin Adams)

Omnipotence: All, or unlimited power
Omniscience: The capacity to know everything
Precognizance: Knowledge of events before they occur

There seemed to me to be some confusion about the definitions of the three above words in this story, which for me, ruined the punchline a bit. Which is what I felt this story read like — a long joke one might tell another.

So God walks into a bar… Whether or not the man is truly God isn’t clear as the main character states to us that she believes he is. The truth is unclear, although some may say the action taken at the end of the story removes all doubt.

Sadly, there wasn’t a sci-fi or mystical element to this story. So, while short, and harmless, I didn’t feel like it truly belonged on the pages of DSF.

This isn’t necessarily a story to be avoided, I mean, it was humorous enough in its brevity and content, however I’m sure there are other, more thought provoking stories to read this month.


“The Song of the Laughing Hyena” by David G. Blake (debut 3/8 and reviewed by Dustin Adams) is a delightfully dark take on The Gift of the Magi, with a little Romeo and Juliet thrown in for good measure.

Kalvin, lord of the manor, has taken full advantage of a servant girl and is, rightfully so, a hated man. Kalvin’s solution is to seek a witch to create a love spell thus solving the problem, and creating a deep, powerful bond.

However, such wounds can not be covered by a salve. The servant girl too finds a method to deal with the atrocity and her pain.

Fatefully, love and hatred combine in an ending that must be read in its entirety. I suggest checking this one out.


The quartet proves waste isn’t the only thing recyclable in “J is for Junk” by The Alphabet Quartet (debut 3/9). A Discovery Channel film team is off to investigate the Pacific Trash Vortex. Instead of finding a floating pile of garbage the size of Texas, they discover an island formed of discarded material. The expedition goes from odd to weird when their sexy on-camera star turns up missing.

If you ever watched old monster epics, you’ll recognize this plot really quick. Like most recycled material, this tale is really bland when compared to the original. This tongue-in-cheek recreation was just plain silly.


“Tuna Fish” by Andrew Kaye (debut 3/10 and reviewed by James Hanzelka) is an interesting take on protein substitutes. Jonathan has a pregnant wife that is very picky on what she can eat without experiencing nausea. When the source is suspect, he proceeds to gather his own, of course when you do that you sometimes get more than you bargained for.

This one was a little over the top for me, but still fun. It did cause me to think about our sources of food and how little we seem to care about the consequences of our actions.


“Shark’s Teeth” by T.A. Pratt (debut 3/11 and reviewed by James Hanzelka)

Nice setting, I love Hawai’i. When a Sorceress is banished to Hawai’i she must find a new line of work. Her friend wants her to open an agency, but she is resisting. That is until she has a chance encounter with a god in human form.

This is a nice use of local Hawaiian customs and folklore blended with a bit of Harry Dresden. I liked the mix, but someone not as familiar with Hawaiian lore might be put off. It is still a good read, and if you are interesting in learning about Hawai’i or just like a bit of fun, dive in.


A forgotten mythical beast yearns to feed in “The Cloud Dragon Ate Red Balloons” by Tom Cardamone (debut 3/14). A cloud dragon hungers for the young boys he sees playing in the soccer fields and playgrounds. He is the last of his kind that still roams the Earth, mistaken for a cloud, as other dragons wait for the day to re-emerge.

“The Cloud Dragon” is more of a tale of what dragons used to be than a story of one monster on the prowl. I learned much of Mr. Cardamone’s mythical world, which is what this tale seemed to be, an introduction to his fantasy universe. The story never evolved and therefore sputtered like the spent drops of a depleted rain cloud.


Feels conflict with programming in “Skin of Steel” by Siobhan Shier (debut 3/15). The protagonist is a robot who serves as a guard and servant for a spoiled heir of a wealthy corporation. Elaine is the Paris Hilton of her day – beautiful, extravagant, self-absorbed , just as she was designed, perfect in everyway. Not all creations follow all their protocols, while others perform them too well. Public perception is everything so therefore events must be closely managed, especially when disaster is involved.

“Skin of Steel” plays on a conspiratorial notion that nothing is done by accident. Elaine has a flaw in her design, a flaw that most would consider a virtue. Virtues run counter for a company mascot whose unknown job is to stay in the limelight. The protagonist is a robot so is therefore easier to control, but feelings run deep for a machine that has been awarded a measure of free will. New programming forces him to recognize his feelings, feelings held in check by duty.

Ms. Shier portrayal of a spoiled woman, used as a reverse promotional mascot, was brilliant. I found this premise surprisingly plausible. A very inventive work of art.


“K is for Kinky” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 3/16) is an advertisement for the latest sex-ploitation. The narrator entices the reader to try sex in a cover; people used to be born with skin. Sex in your epidermal layer is like nothing you can imagine, just be wary of the aroma.

“K” is one of those far future parodies meant to show how much we are attached to the parts of us that can be so gross, when described in detail.


Twin sisters resist an alien invasion in “Self and Self” by Jacob A. Boyd (debut 3/17). Jane and Kim take turns watching each other while the other one sleeps. Earth is in the throws of an alien invasion. Squid-like creatures from light-years away will switch places with you while you dream. The girls make sure to wake the other before the switch can be made. The sisters vow to look after each other even when the people they know have gone. Family must always stick together, even if it is from light years away.

“Self and Self” is a new take on the “Body Snatcher” theme. Many in the world have succumbed to the inevitable. Radio broadcasts have announced it is everyone’s patriotic duty to ignore the switches. Jane and Kim are two who have no intentions of giving in to the inevitable. The story tracks their progress as two girls on the run but with nowhere to go. The whole time you get the feeling you are watching a spider in a tub that is battling from going down the drain. An intriguing and well thought out story.


Advancing technology in a world of magic is the theme of “Newfangled” by K. G. Jewell (debut 3/18). The protagonist is left irritated at his son, Mark, after a repair bill to fix his fridge leaves his wallet $1535 lighter. The garage ghoul had a case of the munchies after finding Mark’s stash of pot. Dad is out to discipline his son but discovers Mark is in deep with a tutoring demon. Now Dad feels out of the loop and old in a world that is leaving him behind.

“Newfangled” is a story of changing times. The technology of fridge elves and cactus nymphs has gone way past him. Magic has become too advanced for him to understand but isn’t beyond Mark’s, but the boy has gotten over his head with a debt to his demon. Fortunately, not everything new is beyond the reach of people stuck in the past.

I found this story clever. Mr. Jewell wrote a fantasy that anybody a generation removed from high school can identify with. I like his style and imagination. I will be looking forward to more of his work.


A director is having trouble getting his actor to cooperate in “That’s Show Business” by Bruce Boston (debut 3/21). He could just turn the actor off but it would take the Hologram Department a week to make another, an expensive decision for a film already over budget. A decision that would be best suited for a producer.

“That’s Show Business” shows us a Hollywood where the entertainment has taken complete control of entertainment. The story was nice but predictable. The ending I found fabulous. High marks for that.


A painter discovers his veins holds the vibrant colors in “Iron Oxide Red” by Gwendolyn Clare (debut 3/22). By accident, the protagonist cut his finger while painting a scene in kitchen. His finger bleeds the color he needs. The painting is a hit, so much so his fellow students salivate for the painted fruit within. The painter discovers he will bleed other colors at different parts of his body, bringing a whole new meaning to putting everything you have into your work.

“Iron Oxide Red” is the type of story only Van Gogh could identify with. The painter becomes a cutter for his art. He slices into different parts of himself to see what colors bleed. The story goes from a painter’s self-sacrifice for his art to a self-deprecating man who can’t comprehend the danger he is to himself.


In “L is for Luminous” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 3/23), a successful husband and wife burglar team runs into trouble when they come upon a wild angel during a heist. The angel bites the Mrs and curses her with the power of illumination. Now she is as bright as a fluorescent moments before it overloads. A glowing burglar is a retired burglar, unless the con duo can rework a new con.

“L” is an inventive flash; a very detailed plot for a story under a thousand words. This tale had a lot going on and had a clever solution to a brilliant problem. It left me very impressed.


“Girl Who Asks Too Much” by Eric James Stone (debut 3/24) is a story of an inquisitive child and an irritated adult. The girl can’t stop asking questions of the Great Egg and why some animals and plants came from it and why others do not. Instead of accepting things as the way they are, she must know why. Unable to silence the girl’s questions, the protagonist takes the girl to the Great Egg. She is eager to get to the truth, and the truth she shall find.

The title of this story, “Girl Who Asks Too Much,” is the name the protagonist gives the young lady. She is like most children who can’t stop asking why, and he is like the adult who tires of the endless why’s that follow each answer. Mr. Stone amazes me on how in depth he can make a story with a thousand words. The reveal may be predictable to a few but it doesn’t damper the appeal of this piece.


Trust by David D. Levine (debut 3/25). Michele and her family live in a refuge camp subsiding on a cup and half of rice a day. The rising ocean had forced them away from their California home. So little food, so little hope, she forms a plan that will spare her teenage daughter from a dim a future.

“Trust” is a story of misguided faith and greed. Michele takes advantage of her overprotective husband’s prejudice and despair, using her daughter as a pawn. Michele comes off a despicable person. You gradually learn how demented she is as you follow along and view her convoluted logic in a despaired world.

Some of the best stories I have read were done form the perspective of an unlikable protagonist. However, it is difficult to pull off and Mr. Levine didn’t pull it off in this one. Michele is remarkably shallow, and shallow people are difficult to root for.


A writer performs body art that leaves her subject speechless in “Words on a Page” by Allison Starkweather (debut 3/28). A man allows his girl to writing something on him, she continues , writing feelings in different languages , and he can feel the words begin to leave him as she does.

“Words” describes what the man is going through as the woman writes. He tries to imagine what she is writing in the areas he can’t see and the words in the places he can. You get a glimpse of his growing paralysis as she writes on every square inch of his being.

The story is of one character playing at the expense of the other. A first I thought it was a tattoo artist gone wild. The ending sentence came off as contrived.


A writer performs body art that leaves her subject speechless in “Written Out” by Terra LeMay (debut 3/29). A girl asks if she can write a word on her boyfriend’s back, then goes hog wild. Her writing takes a life of her own as her subject’s words are taken from him and are exposed to the world on the canvas of his own body.

“Written Out” is a companion story for “Words on a Page”. While Ms. Starkweather’s story done mostly from the man’s point of view, Ms. LeMay’s is done exclusively from the artist’s. The two authors critique each other’s works and submitted their stories together. The decision was wise because, although the pieces worked individually, they are brighter when compared side-by-side.


We walk a pattern in “M is for Mall” by the Alphabet Quartet (debut 3/30), and if it is disrupted, run for the hills. The protagonist is a security guard at the local mall. Every morning the retired residents of the town arrive to walk their complicated patterns. Then mall management decides to erect a new stand in the way of their routine route. Big mistake.

I found this story to be amusing. Not much to it, and I’m not sure why the results at the end came about, but I still found it fun to read.


Victor Frankenstein monster is in search of friends, again, in The Modern Prometheus by Ed Wyrd (debut 3/31).

This is a mini modern retelling of an old classic. The reveal is a ‘when’ the story occurs. Amusing and very short.



What else can I say? I’m still enjoying DSF. For those of you who have yet to read it, for heaven sakes, subscribe already. Can’t beat the price, that is for sure.

Anonymous is currently on a research project for his next book, The Collective Story about Everyone and Everything. He is 234,764,431 pages into it and has contracted a large section of Washington State for the paper to print it.

Special thanks to Dustin Adams and James Hanzelka for their continuing help.