The Otissito Review

Category: Short Fiction

Total 3 Posts

Review: Bastion Magazine, Issue #1

Bastion #1About six months ago I happened across a blog post that featured the very first issue of Bastion Magazine. For a long time I’ve wanted to find a science fiction or fantasy magazine to read so I could expose myself to new writers and to more short fiction within those two genres. Part of the reason I want to read more short fiction is because I would like to get back into creative writing at some point and I think my strengths might point more to that format rather than full-length novels.

At the time I said to myself, “A brand new science fiction magazine! This is perfect! I can jump in on the ground floor with this!” Then, as seems to be the usual case with me, life got busy and I was trying to stay on track with reading my 100 books for the year, then I was starting a new job, then I was moving to a new home, and now it’s October and the year is almost over. I guess that time has a problem of just getting away from me sometimes, although I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person who suffers with that problem in life.

So, now Bastion Magazine has released its sixth issue in October and I’ve just managed to read the first one. Luckily for me, I have all six of them sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read as soon as I can work them in. I may still have 30 books to read towards my goal for the year as of the writing of this post, but I decided it was time to pause on that and see what Bastion Magazine has to offer me. At the very least, they have magnificent cover art, but I have a feeling the stories in each issue are going to entertain me just fine.

Let’s start with a few comments on the individual stories in Bastion Magazine, Issue #1:

That World Up There by Kurt Bachard
It isn’t often nowadays that you read something written with a second person point of view, but this story took the leap and gave it a try. As a result, I had to reread a few sections to make sure I was following the story correctly because I’m not used to reading in that viewpoint. I did like how the author left it ambiguous as to exactly what the character was, especially given that it can apparently jump bodies at the end.

The Dead Channel by David Galef
I suppose there will always be a debate about whether or not the soul exists and by extension what happens to the soul after a person dies. The idea that families could have a television set that allows them to see and/or hear the person that has recently deceased is something I find both fascinating and a little bit creepy at the same time. Is that something I would want to have for my children if my wife died prematurely? I’m really going to have to think about that before I can settle on an answer.

The Trial of Avery Froelich by Eric J. Hildeman
This was my favorite story of the issue. It had just the right amount of personality from the author leaking through the words and the dialogue was wonderful. Besides, I’m a big fan of the whole “big and unexpected plot twist” thing, which this story had plenty of to go around.

The Dreamcatcher by M. Justine Gerard
I’ll admit, I had to read this one twice. The first time I don’t think I was paying close enough attention to the details and that left me a little bit lost. The second time through I was paying attention and when I was finished I felt a bit creeped out. In a good way. Unexpectedly, this story is the one that made me the most uncomfortable in a “well, that’s definitely something to think long and hard about” sort of way. Stories should do that sometimes.

The Last Repairman by David Austin
This story had me thinking a lot about Hugh Howey’s Wool as I read it. I know it wasn’t really the same thing, but the idea of someone having to “go outside” and everyone being worried about it really sent me back to when I read Wool. I think there is a bigger story inside of this one that I really want to see on the page someday.

Shale by David Jack Sorensen
I think Shale was the shortest story in the issue by a big margin. It’s really only one scene that incorporates a bit of a flashback and then leaves the reader to their own devices as to deciding what happens next. I’m not generally a fan of that sort of thing, but it worked pretty well.

The Crystal Forest by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt
The most humor in the issue came from this story. I’ve read several books lately that deal with sentience being transferred to robotic bodies or held in limbo until physical bodies can be repaired, but I hadn’t come across one where the transfer to a robotic body led to a switch in gender, a switch that for all intents and purposes is permanent. I really, really wanted another 10,000 words of this story to magically appear when I was finished. It hooked me in hard.

Shock by Samuel Marzioli
I’m not really sure how I feel about this one. The manifestation of healing powers that save a life is a little bit of a reach for me personally, but given the short fiction format, I’m not sure there is much else one can do about it. It was well written, but might have just not been my personal cup of tea in the end.

Lighthouse to the Depths by Nicholas Mazmanian
When I finished Lighthouse to the Depths I was reminded of some of the older science fiction I’ve read for school in the past. The kind where not everything is explained and you really have to sit back and fill in some blanks on your own.

Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

When it comes to unique books I’m not sure I have read very many that really qualify as truly unique because most of what I read is rather mainstream. However, there are a few books despite that which I think are pretty unique for various reasons. I’m not sure if I can come up with a full list of ten books, but I’ll try my best.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
What makes Ancillary Justice so unique is how the author bends gender with everyone on the page being referred to with a feminine pronoun. It makes for an incredibly unique reading experience and to be honest, it makes things a little bit confusing for the first piece of the novel. You really have to force your brain to work a different way in order to make sense of the characters and their actions.

World War Z by Max Brooks
I loved this book because of its unique format. The choice to use imagined interviews with key players to create a chronicle of the events surrounding a zombie apocalypse was a fantastic storytelling device. I was glued to this book the entire time I was reading it because the interviews felt so real despite the fact that I knew they were fictional.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’m sure there have been other books that tried the approach of featuring a player inside of a massive online game, but if I ever find another one worth reading I’ll hold it up in comparison to Ready Player One every time. Ernest Cline did a great job creating a virtual world for his characters to run around in and there was something exciting about having a fictional world inside of another fictional world be the main playground for the story to take place within.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
There is a lot of post-apocalyptic YA fiction out there in the world to consume, but very little of it is so unique that it really grabs your attention. So many of those stories follow a very limited number of tropes, but The Maze Runner does a lot of things very differently and I’m very excited to see how the general public accepts the movie version later this year because I think it’s exactly the unique YA infusion the genre needs.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Atwood
Most people might not thing Gone with the Wind is all that unique, but it was pretty unique for me to decide to read it. My wife loves the book and I’d never read it before so I took the plunge to see what it was all about. I had a very mistaken understanding of what the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was in reference to, so when I finished the book in the early morning hours one day I was very upset. I can usually accept just about anything in a book without getting angry, but this one got me.

Kraken by China Mieville
I’m not sure Kraken is unique in comparison to other books of its kind, but it was certainly unique to me when I read it. I had never read a book quite like Kraken before and it took a lot of brainpower for me to dive into that kind of writing style. I thought it was a great book and I’d like to read more of the author’s work someday.

The God Engines by John Scalzi
This is actually a novella, but I still think it’s one of the most unique things I’ve read in the past few years. There are some really interesting religious themes in The God Engines, and the end of the story is mind-blowing in not only its abruptness but in its intensity.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion is another novella, and I really liked how Sanderson took the main character and turned him into a cast of characters by having the supporting characters be manifestations of the main characters psyche. The interplay between characters is very unique as a result and it allows for some interesting plot developments. There is a sequel coming out later this year that I’m very excited to read.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days between comics, television, and books. The thing is, almost all of these stories deal with the actual outbreak of the zombies. What makes Feed so unique is that it deals with life after the outbreak when society has figured out how to survive and make a life in a world that has zombies roaming around. I think that’s pretty unique within the particular sub-genre.

The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinez
It hasn’t been very long since I read The Daedalus Incident but I still love how it’s a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. Most books only manage to focus on one of those two genres, but this one blends the two almost seamlessly to create something entirely new and exciting.

Look at that! I managed to find ten unique books after all!

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s the start of a new season and that means it’s time to take a look at the books I want to read most during the Spring months as they roll past. I’m trying really hard not to buy any new books for a little while until I manage to empty my Kindle of the 27 books it currently holds, so this list of ten is going to come from those books available to me that way. The top ten books for my Spring as determined by my Kindle if you will. Will these be the next ten books I read? Probably not, but they are the ones I’m most excited about reading that I have in my possession at the moment.

first-set

Dawn of Swords by David Dalglish and Robert J. Duperre
This is the newest book by David Dalglish and I’ve read all of his others and loved them. The world Dalglish has created through his entwined series fascinates me for a variety of reasons and this book takes the reader back to the dawn of that world to see how some of the history mentioned in other books came to be.

Unfettered by Shawn Speakman (Editor)
I’ve made it a goal to read a couple of anthologies this year and if I’m going to do that I definitely need to read this one because it features short fiction by some of not only the best fantasy authors in the world, but a majority of my favorites.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
There are a lot of books on my list to read someday and Brent Weeks is one of those authors that it seems like everyone recommends at some point. I figure I’m going to have to read a book or two of his at some point just to see if everyone really knows what they are talking about or not.

second-set

The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch
(Fisherman’s Hope, Voices of Hope, Patriarch’s Hope, and Children of Hope)
I’ve read the first three books in this series and I want to see how everything ends. I’ve had the books on my Kindle for a long time now and I think I’ll feel pretty accomplished if I can get the entire series finished in the next few months. I really want to know what happens with Nicholas Seafort as he gets older and gains more experience with interpersonal relationships and with command. His character has real potential.

third-set

The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch
(The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies, and The Republic of Thieves)
This is another trilogy that I’ve heard absolutely rave reviews about from every corner from friends, co-workers, and the authors and publishers I follow on social media. Apparently Scott Lynch has got something seriously good going for him with these books and so when they were on sale recently I grabbed the entire set.