Book Reviews – Short Stories – The science fiction short story “What We’re Made Of” is available from the Baen Books website. This story was written by Frank Chadwick (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Chadwick). I would rate this as ‘R’ due to the scenes of Violence.
Earth is at war with the Varoki and the USMC is making one of the first combat drops onto K’tok from orbit. They have all done it many times in training, but this will be the first real drop for most, including Captain J. C. Merderet, commander of Delta Company, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Meteoric Insertion Capable (MEU-MIC).
She is ready for the jump, but scared like those she commands. She is perturbed that the higher command has inserted a reporter into her Company for the duration of the operation. She fears that this civilian will get in the way of her troops.
I really enjoyed the 40 minutes I spent reading this science fiction story. I thought it was very well written and felt like the story of a real combat jump. My only real complaint with the story is that it is too short. It felt like I jumped into the middle of the story and was pulled away too soon. But that is the complaint I have with most good short stories. I give this story a 4.4 out of 5.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The science fiction short story “Block Party” is available for free from the Baen Books website. The story was written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller http://korval.com/. I would rate this story as ‘G’.
Earth seems to be surviving after some kind of disaster. Algaina is the local baker in a small community where newbies from off planet arrive from time to time. A new batch has arrived, this one made up mostly of children. Algaina offers one cookies and soon she finds herself working with one of the older refugees who was himself a baker before coming to Earth.
Most like the new items the cooperative efforts brings, but there are a few who voice their opinions against the new arrivals. Will the new arrivals be able to fit in, or will the voice raised against them prevail.
The only science fiction aspect of this story is that refugees have come to Earth from another human settled planet. I did enjoy the hour I spent reading this short story. I bake some from time to time, so I felt a relationship to the plot. It isn’t a deep plot, but it was an enjoyable story. I give it a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The science fiction short story “Feldspar” was written by Phillip A. Kramer (https://pakramer.com) and is available from the Baen Books website. This story is the Grand Prize Winner of the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award 2017. This is a “G” rated story.
Mars is being developed in many ways, though human exploration is still in the infant stages. Most work on Mars is being done by the the many rovers that have been transported there and which have been leased to “gamers”. TerraForm Games now utilized the drones for exploration and sample collection.
Blake has invested everything he has into one of the rovers. He plays the ‘game’ full time, gathering resources and discretely building a habitat that he hopes to one day live in on Mars. While his rover is returning to his base of operations on the Martian surface, he comes across the tracks of one of the few astronauts on Mars. Soon he discovers that they are in trouble. Will he be able to use his rover to help save the astronaut?
I really enjoyed the 30 minutes spent reading this science fiction short story. You get a real feel for the characters and the plot is quite believable and engaging. I give this short story a 5 out of 5 rating.
Book Review – Short Stories – The science fiction short story “Bullet Catch” is available for free from the Baen Books website. It was written by Stephen Lawson and is the First Runner Up in the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award 2017. I would rate this as “G”.
Mars has been colonized to a small extent. Vinny is one of the colony staff and comes up with a brilliant idea to make a small fortune. He builds a rail gun and then secretly fires projectiles of platinum back to his brother on Earth.
When one of the researchers finds not only that she is pregnant, but that her unborn child has a cancer, Vinny and the others struggle to find a way to save the first child conceived on Mars.
I thought that this was a very good short story and enjoyed the 30 minutes it took to read it. Though the story is brief, you get a good feel for the characters. I would rate this as a 4 out of 5.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The short story “Starhome” was available for free from the Baen Books website. Starhome is a small (approximately 1 kilometer across) planetoid in space that has been hollowed out with habitat and working space. It has originally been used as a part of the deep space jump point control, but it had been abandoned after many years of service.
Years ago the Bates family claimed the planetoid as salvage and established an independent space nation. It has survived for years, but now the war between Earth and the Freehold of Grainne has shut down the independent transport business that has been Starhome’s life blood.
As Bates is considering abandoning Starhome, a stealthy space craft approaches and makes them an offer that is too good to turn down. Starhome will get much needed supplies and even some improvements in return for hosting a science research station. Will this offer allow Starhome to operate independently or will it draw them into the war?
I enjoyed the 30 minutes it took to read this science fiction short story. I liked the characters and the over all plot. This is a universe I would like to read more of. I give this a 4 out of 5.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The short story “A Fire on the Hill” is available from the Baen Books website. This short story is a quick 10-15 minute read. It is a science fiction story in a world where Earth has been invaded by the “Creepers”. The Creepers killed off a large chunk of humanity, but now humans are beginning to fight back.
Young Belinda Craft is living with her grandfather in rural New York. She sees and hears signs of a battle going on up the hill with Creepers. Her grandfather has her gather supplies and they start up the hill to assist. Up the hill into danger to do their duty.
I thought that this was a very good short story. I would like to read more stories set in this world. I give it a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The short story “Crossed Lines” was written by Jack Lockwood. This is a quick (10 minute) read of a Mystery short story.
A man phone’s his wife and gets a crossed phone connection. He listens to her talk with her current lover. Most upsetting though is her casual mention of hiring a neighbor to kill him, her husband. While still in shock over what he has heard, the killer shows up at his office.
Book Reviews – Short Stories – The short story “DEI BRITANNICI” by D. J. Butler (http://davidjohnbutler.com) is available for free from the Baen Books website.
This is a Fantasy short story set in an alternate timeline. This is a prequel to the novel “Witchy Eye”. England is on the verge of falling to the Necromancer. Will Sir Isaac Newton and John Churchill be able to defeat them?
This is well written but jumps into the Universe established for Witchy Eye. I enjoyed it, but I felt out of place with the plot and characters as I have not read Witchy Eye. I read this short story in less than 20 minutes. I give this a 3.8 (rounded up to 4) out of 5.
Book Reviews – “Does a Bear Shoot in the Woods?” is a free, Young Adult fantasy short story published on the Baen website. It was written by Wen Spencer and published in 2017. Ms. Spencer has published four novels and several short stories.
In this story, Dugan Harman is a High School Junior with an odd past. All in the little town he has grown up in know about him and his family. They have a history of being odd . . . more like insane.
While in the woods experimenting with his camera, Dugan runs across a bear. Not just any bear, but a huge brown bear . . . that can talk. This begins a trip for Dugan where the world he has been told is his psychotic imagination, begins to become real.
While I am not much of a short story fan, I feel that the 90 minutes invested in this short story was well worth the time. I give this a 4 out of 5 evaluation.
Short Stories – I am not a big fan of short stories, but I have been reading those that are published and free on the Baen Books website. Most recently I read “Preparations and Alliances: A Story of the Arenaverse” written by Ryk E. Spoor (http://grandcentralarena.com). He has published three novels in this Universe and ten novels in total.
The story is set in his Universe of the Arena. Humanity has earned a spot in the Arena. Now they must survive outside the stringent rules the Arena imposes. Tunuvun of the Genasi has traveled with the humans back to the Solar system. He is there to do what he can to repay the Humans for what his race considers a deep debt.
While I only spent about an hour reading this Science Fiction short story, I enjoyed it. Because I had not read any other works set in this Universe, jumping in was a little hard. I would suggest having read other works first. I give this short story a 4 out of 5. As my complaint is with most short stories, it ended too soon.
My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).