Archive for February, 2014

Spine-Tingling Short Fiction: Newton’s “The Reconstruction Descending”

Posted in Book Reviews on February 26, 2014 by onlookerslowdown

The Reconstruction DescendingThe Reconstruction Descending by Newton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The short story is a genre that should be more popular than it is. The shrinking national attention span should be creating more of a clamor for stories that range from several to a few pages in length. Writing such as Newton’s “The Reconstruction Descending” will create more of a desire for shorter fiction because of its ability to bring swift hammer blows of visceral meaning.

There are six stories in this short collection; if there is a common theme, it is the hostility that humanity faces, not only from the natural world, but from other worlds and even from its own creations. If Stephen King made his mark chronicling the various darknesses that swell inside us, Newton will make his mark leaving unsettling visions percolating in our minds long after we have put the stories down.

The best story in this collection is the last one, “Breathing Room.” It imagines a world in which people can use SimBots to spend time with recreations of loved ones who have passed away. A rogue judge uses the technology to recreate time with his wife; the fact that he is unspeakably cruel to the SimBot triggers a real simulation of his wife. Instead of the compliant blonde he expects, the angry, dead soul comes back to life and occupies the SimBot, with a vivid outcome.

“Quality of Life” turns cancer from a fatal disease to a malicious force that seeks to take over the bodies of its sufferers. The haunting battle between an elderly woman and her cancer is one that, shall we say, makes me less likely to swim in a lake near a nursing home.

The most effective parts of these stories are the philosophical questions that underlie them. There are some stories that could use a little more development, such as “Gifted” and “An Angel and the Devil Over Coffee.” The title story, “The Reconstruction Descending,” is powerful because of the existential chaos it believes to be coming toward us all.

All in all, these stories are definitely a diversion from what is mainstream. If you like your fiction to make you think about uncomfortable topics, this is a collection you will enjoy.

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Writing for a Cause: “The Last Train Home”

Posted in Writing for a Cause with tags , , on February 17, 2014 by onlookerslowdown

So now I’m branching out from just blogging to writing fiction…short stories and even a novel. To start getting the word out about my writing, I’m teaming up with my cousin Wesley White to bring awareness to two causes: to leukemia, and to my writing.

Wesley is currently in remission from leukemia. Before he came down with this disease, he had been training on a mountain bike and running, thinking about completing his first Half Ironman, until his diagnosis. He went through a successful stem cell transplant and is back on the road to full recovery. Unfortunately, the costs of his treatment — and for having to keep his custom auto body shop closed during several months in the hospital — mean that we’re all doing what we can to help him get caught up.

Here’s how it works: below you’ll find the opening to my latest short story, “The Last Train Home.”

If you like it, send a donation of at least $1 to this PayPal address: wesleywhite1918@gmail.com. Then I’ll send a copy of my story, in pdf and mobi (Kindle) formats, to you. Share this page so that even more money can go to help my cousin get things back up and running again.

Here’s a preview:

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Lydia cursed her husband as she shivered on the escalator down toward the subway station. A slight, slender woman in her late thirties, Lydia felt as though she would simply blow down the shaft. Her long auburn hair plumed up into the night. Just because she’d had a seizure a month before didn’t really mean she would be a bad driver. But he’d told her she couldn’t drive anymore, didn’t need to drive anymore, because now she was an epileptic.

Did that mean he’d gone out and gotten a better job so she could stay home? Or offered to drive her to work every day? Of course not. And so the icy blades of wind that threatened to slice her into bits on this long escalator ride left wounds that she hoped he could feel on his short four-mile drive home. From HIS job.

Public transportation really wasn’t all that bad where they lived, she thought. And she wasn’t stuck in traffic anymore, because he picked her up from the train every night, and rush hour didn’t go the way they went. But this wind –

Suddenly Lydia lurched forward, and she bumped into the person in front of her. A tall, solid form in a brown trenchcoat winced under the impact but did not fall forward to start a row of dominoes that would only spill onto the chilly tile at the bottom. Instead, the body turned, slowly, and two blue eyes pierced her so thoroughly that she forgot all about the cold wind. These were eyes that you only see when you’re fast asleep, and the wolf who’s chasing you through your dreams catches up with you. These were not eyes you wanted to bump into while riding down an escalator (which seemed to be going all too slowly).

“I-I’m sorry,” Lydia stammered. “Someone, someone pushed me.” The eyes looked over Lydia’s head, settling with such hate that she turned too.

No one was behind her. All the way to the top (and this was an escalator that was two stories tall), there were no passengers behind her. That was strange, because she had felt people crowding in behind her when she put her token into the slot and found the top of the escalator. She’d gotten a little dizzy and light-headed, in fact, because so many people were behind her. But then she’d snapped out of it and found herself on the way down.

The eyes came back to her. “I…I must have slipped,” Lydia apologized. “I won’t d-d-do it again.”

Want the rest? Send in your donation!
Note: Because this is for an individual, it’s NOT tax deductible. However, it will definitely help out!