Short Stories by John Zaharick

This is the last group of stories from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology. It’s only taken me three years to finish – so I’m a slow short story reader.

Dysmorphic

Published: April, 2013 in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review

Genre: science fiction

Setting: Earth, near future

Summary: Lisa is a sensory network array controller. She feels much more comfortable controlling the robot arrays than in her own skin. She finally feels comfortable in her body after returning her consciousness from an array in the Gulf of Mexico.

Final thoughts: I feel like I’m missing something in this story. We get flashbacks of Lisa’s life and how uncomfortable she is in her skin and then suddenly, she’s fine? What was so special about that particular assignment that allowed her to slip back into her skin and be happy in it for the first time ever? I don’t know, so I end the story unsatisfied.

Title comes from: The narrator was unhappy with her body shape, and the author used the term dysmorphic to describe her state of mind.

Ghost Gardening

Published: January, 2013 in Lost and Lonely

Genre: fantasy

Setting: generic location (felt like the U.S. but not really specific), present day

Summary: Our narrator plays a game with their significant other – find the strangest book you can in a used bookstore and buy it for your partner. They’ve found the best one yet – A Guide to Ghost Gardening. Alternating with snippets from the book, we learn the partner has died and the narrator has had a hard time getting over that death.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the contrast of the crazy gardening book (if you’re trying to make a ghost garden, you need to get the proper energies in the ground to attract ghostly elements) with the more mundane reminisces of the narrator. For a bit, the narrator seems to have found a haunted house with a ghost garden already in existence (there are salamanders everywhere), but then they move on.

One interesting point I only noticed as I started writing up the review was the gender of the narrator and their partner is never mentioned. I read it as having a female narrator, but I think that’s only because I am female. I wonder if it would feel male to a male reader?

Title comes from: The title of the strange book the narrator found and was excerpted throughout the story.

 

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