Review – Resolutions (short story collection)

I’d read a few of the stories that comprise Resolutions a while ago, and while seeing my friend Sam develop and grow his online storytelling experience StoryMechs has been great, there’s been a latent itch to see some new content prose-wise from Sam and Resolutions, while long in the pipeline, delivers a literary burst of camomile to my inflamed intellect.

Resolutions

With Resolutions, Sam positions it as a “love letter to the science fiction genre” that “explores the effects of technology on humanity and how these advances are altering our world”. Indeed, the eight stories that comprise Resolutions are variations on that theme, with characters interacting in strange environs they take for granted but the reader finds fantastical. In Furry’s Forest the reader is presented with a world without trees and how to brooch that fact to a small child who truly believes in them, a situation surreal to the contemporary reader but deadly serious to the inhabitants of the story. This is the sort of moral conundrum the reader is presented with witnessing, and I must say it’s rather deftly done. Clearly, the psychological impact of such changed environs is a specialty to the author and it shows.

As a whole, Resolutions totals just over ten thousand words, which in comparison to my output seems tiny but the brevity isn’t misplaced; stories take place in their own microcosms and don’t outstay their welcome; rather, exposing the core concept the author wants the reader to engage with and leaving with a hook – how could this situation develop? How would the characters we met respond? Certainly, I consider any story that leaves the reader thinking quite profoundly about its meaning and how it would’ve continued past the point into which the reader is given a view a success. Definitely there is a sense that the author knows what he wants the reader to experience as a concept with a certain piece and frames the narrative around exhibiting that concept.

Standout works in Resolutions, for me, have to be multi-part space opera That’s No Moon, which demonstrated that the author can deliver on some classic action-oriented science fiction with a whimsical twist; social media parody Assimilated that exposes a dystopian near-future not impossible to see from a contemporary standpoint; and Software Malfunction, because I’m a total geek who digs subtle and not-so-subtle references to modern life. To say the other stories aren’t worthy of praise would be doing them a disservice; they’re all thoroughly enjoyable little reads that get you scratching your head. Again, while being variations on a theme, each has a thematic bent of its own.

That said, a surprise for me came from the Anatomy of a Halcyon 5000 Eraser Missile; a series of micro-stories tied into the main work, That’s No Moon, where the joyous, friendly personification of components of the central killing machine coming together describing why they exist seems so abhorrently misplaced and juxtaposed from a contextual point of view yet comes across strangely endearing. To see these personified components being matter-of-fact about their eventual purpose as a unit really pressed home the impact – literally – technology can have on human lives at the base level. For me, Anatomy conveys the spirit of the video game Portal, where childlike turrets gleefully gun down the player, and anything that evokes shades of Portal – my favourite game – gets a thumbs-up from me!

I suppose my only real complaint with Resolutions is that there is simply not enough of it! I really enjoyed reading it and I’m proud to support my friend’s efforts. This is a real sign that traditional storytelling techniques still have a few tricks up their sleeves and Sam’s writing is certainly impressive. I do think that he and I are of the same minds in terms of our science fiction – how it impacts humanity from a societal perspective and it’ll be very interesting to see if Sam can expand on some of his concepts here into new work. Definitely, as a debut published “traditional” work, Resolutions shows that with Sam, we’re only just starting on a very enjoyable journey.

Rating: 5*

Buy Resolutions on Amazon Kindle or get it in a variety of formats from Smashwords! You can also connect with the Sam Richards through Twitter, Facebook, his website and also read my recent Q&A with him!

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