Stress consumed me for the first half of June. This was because all those end of semester assignments loomed around me, as well as a couple of in-class presentations. However, this is now all behind me and I’m now free from uni, until the end of July anyway. With this freedom, I can now get back to what I love doing most: writing, seeing friends, gaming, and most importantly, reading. Short stories ruled this month in my reading, as did the sci-fi and fantasy genres. This month’s is a selection of a wide array of stories, from classics of literature to the recent issue of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and by far my most diverse in a little while.
Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
The first novel in The Witcher book series, Blood of Elves follows Geralt of Rivea in his adventures across the Northern Realms. In this story, Geralt is introduced to a girl named Ciri, who he and the others at Kaer Morhen see as their future.
As I said in an earlier Book Talk; I’m a huge fan of The Witcher series. The Wild Hunt is by far my favourite Xbox One game and is what got into reading Sapkowski’s book series. I’m proud to say that this entry has only enhanced my love for this series.
The plot to this story was really good, despite being somewhat slow and not really have a true beginning, middle, and end, in my eyes. I loved all the characters in here, from Geralt and Dandelion to Yennefer and Ciri. The writing style is enjoyable and allows me to get lost in this fantastical world. It took me a lot longer to read this (about 3.5 weeks), but this time doesn’t matter since it’s worth the read.
Blood of Elves is another great entry in The Witcher series. If you’ve read The Last Wish, read this now! If not, start with The Last Wish. This is a fantastic series, one which, I think, stands next to Harry Potter, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings as one of the best the fantasy genre has to offer.
The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells
Mars is dying, and its inhabitants are looking for a new planet to live on. After a long time of studying, they decide on Earth, launching themselves from large guns in cylinders and crashing down on the planet. The first of these lands in Woking, England, where they emerge and begin their attack.
I find it hard on what to say about The War of the Worlds that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll say this now: it’s the best book I’ve read this year so far! The story is just so exciting and thrilling and has that classic sci-fi feel to it, something I really love. The writing and its overall style are slightly dated, but this is one of those rare examples where that really doesn’t matter, mainly because the plot is timeless. This story is included in the Classic Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy hardback as you can see in the cover image (a beautiful book by the way). The main character, although unnamed, still felt true and I wanted to see him survive and meet his wife again.
There’s a reason The War of the Worlds is a classic in sci-fi. It took me years to finally understand why that is, and I finally discovered why. A fascinating story, and certainly one for the ages. If you haven’t already, go read this, you won’t regret it.
As always, I’ll be keeping my thoughts on short stories short to prevent spoilers, and to not keep on going on about them.
Polaroid Land by Edd Vick
Appearing in issue 67 of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (ASM), ‘Polaroid Land’ is an interesting speculative tale. I thought it was really good and is certainly full of character and emotion and the use of Polaroid photos is done really well. Give it a read and you’ll see what I mean.
Polyp by Danielle Shelton
Bloody, Cronenberg-esque*, and twisted: that’s how I can sum up ‘Polyp’. Also appearing in ASM, this was certainly a standout and one with a hell of a weird plot. I cringed a bit when reading this story, and I think you would too when picking it up.
Ur by Stephen King
A man gets a Kindle and he begins experiencing some weird shit with it. This is all I can say to sum up this Stephen King story from his Bazaar of Bad Dreams collection. I really enjoyed this story, despite its plot feeling a little dated and belongs in the early-mid 2000s (when it was actually originally written). Unlike many other short stories I’ve recently read, this had a true three arc structure with nothing lingering after it. Still, if you haven’t read this yet, go have a check out of it.
The Diamond Lens by Fitz James O’Brien
From my Classic Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy book, this 1858 tale was certainly unusual for me. This is all to do about a scientist who goes mad during his scientific studies and who is obsessed with his microscope. The plot is timeless and thrilling, but the writing style hasn’t aged too well and confused me a bit while reading it. The ending though, gorgeous as hell and really terrifying, making up for the dated writing. Give this read if you’re interested in classic speculative tales.
Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Irene Adler: the woman who got away. This is another great short story from our favourite classic detective Sherlock Holmes, although dated in writing style. Good plot and lovable characters are really all I can say about this piece, go have a read of it now and you’ll see why.
*Cronenberg-esque: A term to describe something disturbing and gross, similar to creatures from films by Canadian film director David Cronenberg. Examples: Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986).