Short Stories by Ken Hinckley



Title: The Ostracons of Europa

Published: July 2013 in Nature

Genre: science fiction

Length: 4 pages

Setting: on Europa, in the future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Ricardo is in a submersible on Europa when he comes across an alien on the ocean floor. The alien indicates to Ricardo that he should turn off the lights on the submersible, and Ricardo experiences the bioluminescence of life on Europa.

Final thoughts: I was disappointed with this story – it just ended. We were just getting into the interaction of Ricardo and the alien when the story ended. Plus, there was some random mention of Ricardo’s wife being dead, which didn’t really seem to add anything to the storyline. Ricardo seemed to feel he was in exile, and he felt the alien was as well? I didn’t get it.

Title comes from: The alien was an ostrocon and it was on Europa

FR-Timestreams-ebook-cover-e1375815894720Title: The Totem of Curtained Minds

Published: August 2013 in Fiction River: Time Streams

Genre: time travel

Length: 15 pages

Setting: a state penitentiary, present day

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Gareth is in jail for life plus 20 years for killing a man during a robbery. He’s pretty much resigned to his fate in jail, when he realizes Old Man Soderstrom is raising giant Cecopria silk moths in a nearby cell. When Soderstrom is shanked for his cigarettes, Gareth takes on his project of raising moths. He uses the silk from pupa that don’t pupate to weave a cloth that concentrates light that allows someone inside the light to step outside of time. Gareth steps into the future several times.

Final thoughts: Again, I was disappointed with the ending. It’s an interesting thought that light is outside of time, so if you can step into the light, you can step outside of time. However, I wasn’t sold about the setting (in jail for life) or the reasons he kept stepping forward in time. Sure, the first time to get out of jail made sense, but why step forward again when he found someone to be with? And what was the deal with bringing the moths with him in time? Was it so he could always step forward in time if he wanted to?

Title comes from: Gareth felt like a curtain was lifted from his mind when he learned how to time travel and the silk moths were his totem.

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