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Strange Worlds
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I read a bunch of sci-fi in my younger days, not so much now. However, I still enjoy good stuff when I find it, something neither too experimental nor blatantly retro. With perhaps only one or two exceptions, the stories in Strange Worlds fit that description. I've read these several times now and find them deceptively good. That is to say, it's easy to do a surface reading just to get the twist in the plot (and sometimes, e.g., in "The Great Leap Forward," that twist is quite nifty). Reading on that level provides a diversion, but there's more and it's worth considering.

Because of all my other reading, I cannot avoid comparisons. The mood of "Remembering Mandy" and "The Last Raft" brings Bradbury to mind. Perhaps also "About Our Cats." And since I was never a huge Bradbury fan I should add that I like these rather more than his stories. "Amything" reminds me of Goodbye for Now: A Novel, which I read quite recently. Several, such as "Christland," suggest Brave New World.

The variety from one story to the next is refreshing, but what they mostly have in common is depiction of a society that could plausibly be in the future for ours. Perhaps a future that's uncomfortably close. The prospect of stepping into it in our own lifetime may have been the author's motivation for writing. That is to say, these are cautionary tales.

In some, the story idea is great but certain aspects seem problematic to me. "Dog Man" and "2038: San Francisco Sojourn: The Wrath of God" are examples. Also, sometimes the author seems a bit heavy-handed in making his points. Perhaps he feels he must be, given our heedless rush toward self-destruction. But I don't feel like quibbling. Looking over the list of titles in this collection, I cannot choose a favorite, because I like so many.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I must say that I very much enjoyed this book of short stories. The short story format is quite good for the stories Clayton tells. He is a master at paintinhg with words. Five stars!

I particularly liked "A Working Man" for the reason that the meme, the spreading of the idea of a protector, is quite profound.

I liked "Christland" because of today's loss of religion and loss of the belief in power of prayer. I thought it was quite appropriateconsidering the news about Sandra Fluke.

I liked "2038," and I think it is aptly titled because the Wrath of God is indeed coming. I also liked the depiction of big government as the nanny state.

Once the left/progressives/liberals/Democrats discover Clayton's moral messages, they will howl and say unflattering things about Clayton and the stories he offers. Secular humanists will indeed find Clayton's messages troubling because he
offer some points that they cannot address. And I think biblical literalists will be troubled because Clayton's messages of retribution doesn't fit their ideas of retribution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
Thirteen stories, mostly set in the future and remarkable for how different they all are, considering they come from one person’s mind.

Varied and quirky, I had a lot of fun wandering through Paul Clayton’s imaginings. Try this for a range of topics: A genetic experiment that goes horribly wrong and threatens the inhabitants of a small island. A life-sucking being masquerading as a cat in a nursing home as it feeds on the life forces of the patients. A UPS truck that delivers a cloned baby (they had to send it back because it was too dark skinned!). Dead people who return to life for a few days. Brains transplanted into robots to extend life. My favorite was a poignant tale of the last ‘real’ human living in a world of clones who desire his memories because they have none of their own. And that’s only six of the thirteen. Yeah, like I said—a lot of fun.

This review was originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. I may have received a free review copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
When I started Readers & Writers Connect I reviewed pretty much anything that was requested. The problem with that philosophy is that I ended up reading a lot of books I didn’t enjoy. Now that the site is nearly 6 months old, its kind of hit a stride. I’m pleased to say that I’m only selecting books I will enjoy. Strange Worlds was a welcome addition to the wonderful 5-star reviews I’ve had the pleasure of giving.

Strange Worlds is a collection of short sci-fi stories. I will disclose that I didn’t like all of the underlying messages in these stories, but I don’t believe you have to in order to appreciate how well they are written. I read some of the other reviews of these stories and agree with much of what was said, one reviewer felt they were not the intended demographic. I would have to say the same for myself, who would be what another reviewer identified as the “liberal progressive-type” that would be opposed to the moral messages.

I will say these stories would best appeal to “new-adult” male lovers of sci-fi. However, anyone who enjoys reading quality stories that are well-written will also enjoy them (even if they disagree with the overall philosophy).
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
This collection of short stories was an extremely interesting read. In the warning above, the author states that these stories present thought-provoking moral situations and this was an accurate statement. There is a very definite school of thought behind these stories, and I am fairly certain that my personal beliefs and views are probably not the demographic for which this anthology was intended. However, this didn't in any way impede me from the deep thought and intellectual consideration that these stories inspire. It is safe to say that perhaps I took different messages from some of the stories than that which may have been intended, but that is the beauty of it... the ability to take something from them.

The Thing in the Box was not a happy story, but one filled with issues that challenge you to really think about life and priorities. There are themes of race and eugenics/selective breeding presented in a very stark and disturbing way. This was a story that has stuck with me, long after reading it. Remembering Mandy, too, was a story that makes you think about the value of technology and priorities in life. Just how much technology is too much? What is important to you, to important to sell out? I think my favorite story was Anything, a story that truly challenges you to think about human life, the value of it, and how far you would go to preserve it. This one was disturbing to me on so many levels, but one that caused me to really examine some things. Gentle One was another story that makes you look at humanity and the inherent prejudices that come along with it. The prejudice in this one is very extreme, but it makes a valid point about how the same issue can be seen so very differently. The final story in the anthology, 2038: San Francisco Sojourn; The Wrath of God, was disturbing in a different way. This presents a dystopian future with deep religious tones, very hell and brimstone. The world created is one that I hope never comes to pass.

The stories in this anthology make the reader think. They challenge beliefs and values and take you places that may disturb you. They all reflect a future that is plausible in reality, which truly deepens the "creepy" factor of the issues presented. In that way, these stories carry a bit of a cautionary warning. There are moral messages in them, many of which are definite statements on the presence or loss of faith. Again, because of my own personal values and beliefs, it is highly likely that I took a different perspective on many of these stories.

Things to love about Strange Worlds...

--The pull to challenge one's values, beliefs, and opinions on some rather intense issues.
-- he potential for some of these stories to represent a plausible future in our own reality.

My recommendation: A deeply intense read that will really make you think!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I haven't read every story in the book yet, but those that I've read have been QUITE interesting. Some are a bit creepy, some are scary, some are just fascinating.
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