Tag Archives: aliens

The End of All Things by John Scalzi

This is the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series that I’m trying to finish up this year.

Published: 2015

Genre: military science fiction

Length: 380 pages

Setting: various location in the Galaxy, far future, soon after the events of The Human Division Continue reading

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Looking for Gordo by Robert J. Sawyer

This is the next story in the Future Visions anthology, by someone I’ve never even heard of. Turns out the two authors are known for their comics and illustrations, which explains my lack of knowledge.

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Setting: California, 2030s
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Short Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Monday’s short fiction is from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, as I slowly make my way through the alphabet.

The Wanderers

Published: February 2013 in Clarkesworld

Genre: science fiction

Length: 8 pages

Setting: a future Earth

Summary: Aliens come to Earth after watching our entertainment. They know we’ll appreciate their ability to dominate and torture, based on all the movies they’ve watched. We’re doing a great job of hiding from them (as piles of ash that only one of the aliens realizes used to be people), but that just means Earth was the perfect place for them to come. They needed a challenge, after all, and their own subjects were boring and died without trying to fight back.

Final thoughts: This one was creepy. We’ve got aliens that think humanity likes torture and violence and horror, since that’s what our entertainment was all about. Of course, be careful around the cars. They must be weapons since they’re always exploding when they crash, which doesn’t match the physics of what should happen. The aliens kept making reference to classic movies that fit the situation (“…more like The Road or I Am Legend, only not like those at all because there was not even one of you left and no monsters in the shadows”). Turns out we killed all of humanity before the aliens could come and do it for us, and the aliens don’t realize it yet.

Title comes from: the aliens were the wanderers, looking for a good planet to inhabit and dominate

The Siren

Published: April 2013 in Strange Horizons; there’s also a podcast of the story

Genre: fantasy

Length: 12 pages

Setting: it felt like suburban California, present day

Summary: Mina shows up one day at Jen’s house. Her mom met her in Greece and invited her home. There’s something odd about her, starting with the bones poking through at her shoulder blades and continuing with the song she sings whenever she’s near the water. Turns out she’s a siren and, although not actively trying to harm Jen and her mother, her song drives them to nearly drowning. Jen decides to help Mina by crafting new wings for her, which sends her to a career of sculpting.

Final thoughts: While not as creepy as the previous story, this one was still quite depressing. None of the characters were particularly happy with their lives. Jen seemed to help the most – the wings she made for Mina did improve her life, and eventually her mom got over her dad’s death. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Wanderers.

Title comes from: Mina was a siren.

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Rosewater by Tade Thompson

I was provided an advance review copy of this book to read, but my opinions are my own. I was intrigued by the setting, and always interested in good scifi.

Published: 2016 (it comes out today!)

Genre: science fiction

Length: 364 pages

Setting: Nigeria, mostly near Lagos, 2055-2066 Continue reading

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Planetary Scouts by Stephen Sottong

I didn’t get a weekend post up since I spent very little time at my house this weekend. My daughter had her first gymnastics meet of the season and I visited my sister for her birthday. But, it’s a new week, and time to read more! Since it’s Monday, it’s time for some short fiction. Today’s story from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology was a bit longer than most, making it into the novelette length.

Published: 2013 in Writers of the Future Volume 29

Genre: science fiction

Length: 43 pages

Setting: various planets, far future

Summary: Our narrator, Aidan Pastor, is a veteran Planetary Scout with a new partner fresh out of training. Pastor would like to get to his 25 missions and out of the Scouts, so he preps Lester as well as he can for the upcoming missions. They successfully navigate several tricky planets (if they weren’t tricky, the unmanned probe data would have been sufficient) before they nearly don’t make it off another planet.

Final thoughts: This was an enjoyable read. You’re thrown right into the middle of the story (the first mission we see is Pastor’s 19th mission), and there’s plenty of history and atmosphere that inform the story. We get the excitement of going to new planets and trying to figure out how it’s going to try to kill them, and even a bit of character development. (Not too much – this is a short story, after all.) I liked the end. It wasn’t a happy ending, but it was still a hopeful ending.

Title comes from: It was the job of the characters we follow.

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Short Stories by Jeremy Sim

It’s short fiction Monday, and my rotation means it’s time to read the next author in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, two stories by Jeremy Sim. If you’re interested, you can read both stories online – just follow the link at the magazine name.

by Darryl Knickrehm

by Darryl Knickrehm


Published: January, 2013 in Waylines Magazine

Genre: science fiction

Length: 15 pages

Setting: Pulua Ubin (in Southeast Asia), near future

Summary: Nicholas and Boon run a small, two-room hotel on Pulua Ubin. It’s not as popular as they had hoped, but they’re mostly making do. Things get better, though, when a family of brindlefarbs show up. They’re thermivores, which means they turn everything in the room to ice every night, and the downstairs guests aren’t too pleased. But, Nicholas and Boon keep everyone happy and the hotel running smoothly.

Final thoughts: A fun story in a unique setting. It definitely felt foreign, and like a place I’d want to visit – off the beaten track. The slang the characters used helped put me in the place as well. Nicholas quotes the aliens (you can see what they look like in the illustration) an enormous price for their stay, which he thinks will solve all their financial woes. Unfortunately, the big payday doesn’t come through. But, even so, karma sets them up to receive good things in the future.

Title comes from: It’s the only thing the adult brindlefarb can say. Amazing what you can get across without speaking the language, though.

Addressing the Manticore

Published: March 2013 in Crossed Genres 2.0 Magazine

Genre: fantasy


Setting: Singapore, present day

Summary: Our narrator is a high-school student and he’s losing his first love, Huiling. She’s going to England, and he’s afraid he’s lost the love of his life. Yes, they might fight, and she isn’t as smart as he is, but they are the only ones who can see each other’s summonings. That counts for something, right?

Final thoughts: Again, a sweet story that has an interesting setting. Both kids are worried about passing their O-level tests to figure out where they’re going to go to school. At the same time, they’re falling in love and teasing each other with their summonings. Our narrator is the smarter of the two, but Huiling has the bigger, more impressive summonings. Of course, she can only do evil creatures, but what does he care? And then, they have one last fight and she’s off to England. He tries to send her one last message with his biggest summoning ever, but he’s not even sure she sees it. It does end on a hopeful note, and made me sigh a bit (in a good way) at the end.

Title comes from: One of Huiling’s favorite summonings when she was mad was a manticore

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The Exterminator by Erik B. Scott

Art by Seth Allen Bareiss

Art by Seth Allen Bareiss

Published: January, 2013 in Daily Science Fiction

Genre: science fiction

Length: 4 pages

Setting: Earth, far future

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Jaren is hired to exterminate some pests in a construction project a serpentine Morgat is completing. Turns out, those pests are humans, living in the basement of a hotel.

Final thoughts: This story was telegraphed from the beginning. Jaren is trying to suck up to the new ruling class by being a great exterminator. Too bad he’s killing his own species, and he’ll never manage to be enough like the Morgat to fit into that society, like he wants to. This story could very easily be about Nazis and Jews, or any other ruling class and lower class. The aliens make it science fiction, but otherwise, I didn’t notice a new take on the theme.

Title comes from: It was the main character’s job

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