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Storylandia 1: The Wapshott Journal of Fiction Paperback – September 25, 2009
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"Kittycat Riley's Last Stand", by Kelly S. Taylor
"Not Quite a Prince", by Kathryn L. Ramage
"More Minimalist Fiction", by Lene Taylor
"Road Kill", by Lee Balan
"Sunday Mornings", by Colleen Wylie
"I, by Chad Denton"
"Practice", by Anne Valente
"Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow", by Kitty Johnson
The first two stories, "Kittycat Riley's Last Stand", and "Not Quite A Prince", are, I think, the strongest of the stories included here. The first, which qualifies as science fiction, has a twisted but somewhat weak ending. The second piece almost qualifies as dark fantasy... but the wizard in the story seems a bit less than magickal and he disappointed me somewhat. Several of the stories contained in this issue incorporate what might be considered objectionable material, rendering this publication unsuitable for those under the age of 18.
Three of the stories "Road Kill", "More Minimalist Fiction", and "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" were previously published elsewhere and due credit is given for that previous publication. I wasn't overly impressed by any of them. More Minimalist Fiction appears to be a short collection of "flash fiction" or what is otherwise known as filler material... very short stories where most of the plot is implied by the actions and dialogue of the characters. I know this stuff is very difficult to write... I've tried more than once myself, so kudos to Lene Taylor for trying, but in my considered opinion, these pieces just aren't strong enough to fill their intended role. They do show some potential though; especially the longer ones. "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" brings up the Bill Clinton - Monica Lewinsky affair of which I heard far more than I wanted while that affair was going on... so truthfully, I didn't do more than skim a bit of this piece... the hook never appeared to me, let alone sunk in.
Four of the shortest pieces, Road Kill, Sunday Mornings, I, and Practice, left me cold. They never "hooked" me as I expect a good short story to do. And being as short as these pieces are, that "hook" needs to be set early; first paragraph or first sentence if possible. If none of these stories were exceptionally bad, neither were any of them exceptionally good. I rated the collection 3 stars because the biggest fault with all of these stories is that they are distinguished by their averageness.
While I can't honestly recommend this collection of stories, neither will I especially warn readers to stay away from it. Those adventurous souls who are willing to risk being disappointed might want to try reading these stories. There might be appeal in them for someone with different reading tastes than mine. Storylandia was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review. This review has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragon Views and LibraryThing.
"Kittycat Riley's Last Stand", by Kelly S. Taylor, was the first and longest piece, but also the best. Other reviews I've seen have criticised the ending as weak, but they're entitled to their own opinions. I enjoyed the new-found enthusiasm of the main character, and thought that the ending was one of the best parts of the story. In all, the story is unusual (A kind of drug-fuelled space western it seems), but makes you want to read the end of it. It is, by itself, a five-star story.
"Not Quite a Prince" by Kathryn L. Ramage is set in an alternate world, where wizards exist but in a mirror-earth. This is set partly in venice for example. It is a good story, but the narrative could become quite complex at times, and I felt that only the fact that I had read "The Wizard's Son", a novel about the main character in this story's son, allowed me to understand some parts of the story.
"Sunday Mornings" by Colleen Wylie is not very memorable. I've read the journal twice through, and I can't remember this one. I apologise to the author, but it just slips from my memory. The other story I was disappointed in was "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow" by Kitty Johnson. It is clearly part of a longer work, and I think it should be seen as part of the longer work. Here it doesn't work well, and I found it to be a highly disappointing end to this issue of the journal. Perhaps If I knew more about the affair, or if it was the type of story I normally read I would have enjoyed it more, but to me it seemed incomplete, but didn't entice me to want to read the full thing.
"Practice", by Anne Valente, I have pretty neutral feelings about. It didn't leap out and grab me, but I didn't feel like I'd lost anything by reading it. It's an interesting concept, for a short story, and not one that i've read before. But there is no drama of anykind, and the emotion could be stronger.
"Road Kill" and "More Minimalist Fiction" are, to be frank, wierd. The former is by Lee Balan, and it says that it is a chapter from a longer work. It doesn't seem that way. It stands alone as an incredibly mind-boggling short story. Despite the fact that I had no idea what was going on most of the time, I found myself really enjoying this story. I have a feeling that that is what the author intended however. The latter, by Lene Taylor is a collection of flash fiction, some of which are good, some of which I wasn't very interested by. They are simple, and I found myself laughing to most of them (all except the first if my memory serves me correctly...). I would love to read more of her work, although I half-felt that the title or "More-Minimalist Fiction" suggested that each of the Micro-Stories would be by a different author, which I wouldn't mind seeing in the second or a later issue.
Finally there is "I" by Chad Denton. Even though this is not the last story in the journal, I was put off by the single letter title. That was stupid of me. Although it had a slow-ish beginning, the ending was quite surprising, and in many ways heart warming. I found that I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, even though it isn't my usual genre.
Overall, Storylandia 1 is a good first issue, and I would suggest that anyone who enjoys reading gives it a go. I expect that others would like different stories within it to me, since everyone has different tastes, but I think I can cinfidently say that any reader would find something within its pages to enjoy.