Monday, September 12, 2011

Feature: Brett J. Talley Short Stories

Brett and me (and Coach Bryant)
after Alabama's 2011 season opener!

I am delighted to offer an EXTRA feature this week!  Mr. Brett J. Talley, author of That Which Should Not Be, is our special guest.  I have previously reviewed his novel HERE, so I thought for the feature I'd spotlight some of his fantabulous short stories.  

I have given the title, link where you can read the full story, and a short synopsis/review of each story.  If you haven't had a chance to dive into That Which Should Not Be (shame on you!), you can get a taste of Brett's talent right here, right now!

Tomorrow, Brett will be here with a fun Q&A, where I get one step closer to squeezing a WAR EAGLE out of him!! :-)  You don't want to miss this (no, really, I need witnesses...)...

Feature:  Brett J. Talley Short Stories

“The Substance of Shadow”
First Place Winner of the Absent Willow Review 2011 Short Story Contest

Another winner by Mr. Talley (literally).  This is a dark, spine-chilling, cryptic sci-fi that will leave you with only one question.  Who, no, WHAT are they?

I can just imagine floating around in space.  Everything is dark and open.  The only protection you have is a ship and beyond that, maybe a suit that can provide oxygen for a short amount of time.  While floating around in the dark, you come up on a strange, seemingly abandoned spacecraft.  Where did it come from?  What happened to the crew?   Do you risk your own crew to investigate or do you hightail it out of there?  What about after you get a very clear warning—not once but twice?

I can absolutely see why this story won the prize!

The citizens of Los Angeles are disappearing one by one with nothing more than the mysterious wind to blame.  There’s no destruction or death, just emptiness, blackness.  All the narrator can do is wait until the shadow finally comes for him.

There’s really not any words I can use to describe this story.  It is delightfully creepy and might even make you contemplate a different kind of apocalypse.  I love how the narrator just patiently carries on while everyone around him inexplicably disappears.

What happens when free will is taken away from mankind?  Can a man who has tasted that freedom make a choice that could change the status quo forever?

In a way this made me think of the mark of the beast.  The government has complete internal control over every person.  Sure they have taken a lot of the bad things out of the world (universe in this case)—murder, rape, etc.  But is life worth living if you can’t make any choice for yourself? 

A group of strangers wake in a strange room with no recollection of how they got there.  There is a two-way mirror in the room but no exit, not even a seam in the wall.  Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, they begin to die one by one.

I think out of all these stories, this is my favorite.  It is more descriptive, more realistic.  And, although we are still left with lots of questions about the chamber and the people involved, there is at least a sort of happy ending.  

Be sure to stop back in tomorrow, Tuesday, September 13th for Brett's interview!!