REVIEW: Flash Fiction Online, October 2017, edited by Suzanne W. Vincent

Review of Flash Fiction Online, ed. Suzanne W. Vincent, October 2017 — Read Online . Reviewed by Meryl Stenhouse.

Stories in this issue:

A Siren Song for Two by Steven Fischer

Claire Weinraub’s Top Five Sea Monster Stories (For Allie) by Evan Berkow

Fluency by Matt Mikalatos

Monsters by Edward Ashton

Editorial by Suzanne W. Vincent

Editorial by Suzanne W. Vincent

October’s issue is monster-themed in recognition of Halloween. As someone from a country that doesn’t celebrate this event, I was surprised at the focus on family, not something I would associate with Halloween at all. But as I said, we don’t celebrate it here, so what do I know?

Monsters, however, are something we can all appreciate. What I liked about this collection was turning the concept of ‘monster’ on its head in interesting ways. Rather than four stories of ‘person vs monster’, the stories challenged the reader to reconsider what is monstrous.

A Siren Song for Two by Steven Fischer

I struggled to connect with this story, for a couple of reasons. The science was incorrect; ice does not expand in the heat and contract in the cold. Also, spacesuits made of metal would be heavy and impractical. I never had a clear idea of what the workers were there for, other than to make money so they could go somewhere else. And I did not understand how, if they knew about the song, they didn’t take precautions to prevent the appalling number of deaths. So perhaps, because I was already doubting the authenticity of the story, the finale didn’t resonate with me.

Claire Weinraub’s Top Five Sea Monster Stories (For Allie) by Evan Berkow

A lovely story about loss and how we remember people. Claire’s relationship with Allie is defined by their mutual love of books and particularly Allie’s love of sea monster stories. I enjoyed the way the list carried on past the end of Allie’s life and became part of Claire’s healing. The two characters were well drawn for such a short piece.

Fluency by Matt Mikalatos

Fluency is a challenging story. An alien race start a war with Earth purely for the purpose of uniting the fractured governments. The protagonist, through their life, learns alien words, but it is only at the finale, on the alien planet, that they fully understand them.

While the personal journey drawn in the story is fulfilling and well-developed, it’s impossible to ignore the background of death and destruction which is barely mentioned in the story. What a horrific crime, to force people to go to war to protect their planet, for the sake of unification. And how would a global war unify a planet? The more likely outcome is that the stronger cultural groups will survive, and the weaker would be assimilated or destroyed. You cannot predict a rosy outcome to such an action without first considering history.

Monsters by Edward Ashton

Niko’s love is dying, and the monsters circle. They want to take her away from him, but Niko won’t let them. I’ve read stories like this before, and there was nothing new here, but it fit neatly into the theme of this issue and was a good ending for those who might not have seen this trope before.

Published by

Meryl Stenhouse

Lover of nature, writer of things. Scientist, humanist, pessimist.

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