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Dead Reckoning: And Other Stories. Kindle Edition
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Dead Reckoning is a collection of short sci-fi and speculative stories, some of which I have already read, but there were plenty of new stories to hold my interest. Reviewing a short story collection is not easy and I'm afraid I am not one of those people who will do a full critique of each offering, so it is fortuitous that with this collection, I do not have to.
Of all the stories, I did have a few favorites. One favorite was called Murphy's Law and had all the classic elements of a classic space thriller. What I loved about this was that it took me back to my childhood and the spooked feeling that would stick with me after watching one of the more chilling episodes of The Twilight Zone. Another favorite, He Who Controls, was more reminiscent of the metaphysical sci-fi stories I devoured in college.
There is some slight overlap, but it's more like little inside jokes than information required to read from one tale to the next. Each story is a complete standalone on its own. I do like that at the end of each, the author added a brief explanation of how the story originated. These little insights were an unexpected bonus.
All in all, I enjoyed each work individually and found the writing to be consistent from story to story. As I mentioned, I did have favorites, but there were no weak links. I enjoyed each immensely.
Where most short stories elect to focus on either world building or character development, David has managed to pack a powerful punch of both into most of these tales. A couple lean more one way or the others, but all of them have these elements. This makes the stories both better and worse. Better, because they are more enjoyable. Worse (for me) because I’m not ready for them to end. A couple of times, David does go back and revisit a few of his characters in a second story, and when this happens there is a nice continuity between the two.
There was a choice David used for assembling this anthology that surprised and delighted me. He chose to put the author’s comments about each tale AFTER the story in question. I have rarely seen this done, but when I do, I enjoy it. This lets you dive straight into the story without any “hash” or “static” created by the comments. And, with each of these stories self-contained, every word is precious. You don’t want to miss one or two worrying about something the author said in his comments.
Most of these stories are science fiction, though a few do edge towards science fantasy, so if you enjoy either of these genres, this book is a wonderful introduction to a fun, new Canadian author.
I finished this a while back, and have been sitting on writing the review every since. Because it is a collection, I’ve been debating about addressing each tale individually, or to find a more general sweeping method. I settled on the more general method, but if you wish a break down of the ten tales, please feel free to let me know in the comments. These are all good, and fully enjoyable in their own right. Definitely a keeper
It’s been a while since I’ve read any straight up sci-fi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the collection of short stories in Dead Reckoning. My interest was caught on the first page. I found the characters all entertaining and, in some cases, (poor swindled Hector and Elvis in particular) larger than life. Well written and imaginative, each story is complete unto itself, yet still managed to leave me wanting more. I loved how they overlapped and the occasional bits and pieces of one could be found in another. After a while, I found myself looking for these neat little instances and smiling when I found one. Time travel and shifting time always catches my eye, so He Who Controls was one of my favorites. I also enjoyed the author’s notes after each story. They added some interesting insight into the world and characters he created.
Dead Reckoning definitely gets my recommendation. I’m curious to check out more of this author’s work.
There are other short stories that readers will enjoy and taste Mr. Kelly's delicious humor!