writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Category: Story a Day 2022 (Page 1 of 15)

“The Unsettled Dust” by Robert Aikman

An officer of an historic trust stays in an old manor house occupied by a pair of sisters, a wistful ghost, and a lot of dust.

Like most Aikman stories, this one takes its time to set up the situation and build out the characters and their relationships. It has few really scary moments, but a sense of dread runs through even the more mundane scenes. Aikman brings his own experience with historical preservation (and surely his experience of the politics within preservation societies) in this story, which adds another layer of interest.

“It’s Easy to Shoot a Dog” by Maria Haskins

A girl and her dog return to a witch’s forest cottage where she made a dangerous bargain ten years before.

A fairy-tale-like story that pulls together a few of Haskins’ favorite themes – dogs, witches, forests, magic; this closes the collection well, while leaving the conclusion uncertain (which is another theme of this collection).

“And You Shall Sing to Me a Deeper Song” by Maria Haskins

A cyborg soldier encounters a peaceful village in peril in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

There are some interesting ideas in this story – the enhanced “singers” as a weapon, the robot war, the Central Command seeking to gather the remnant populations into domed cities – that I would like to see expanded into a longer work. While it hews close to the tropes of post-apocalyptic-cum-Western, its characters are fleshed out and the protagonist’s internal turmoil raises the story above the mundane.

“No One Really Lives Alone” by Lesley Hart Gunn

Advice is offered to a demon summoner when an exorcist arrives at her door.

This playful story turns poignant and dark as it goes on, and the voice of the narrator and the identity of the exorcist come into focus. I enjoyed the second-person narration and the clever descriptions of the levels of demonic summoning that have gone on leading to the revelation.

“Milagroso” by Isabel Yap

A man who works for a company that produces artificial food goes to a festival in his home town where a saint’s statue miraculously generates vast quantities of natural food.

This story plays with the meaning of a “miracle”: the food that Marty’s company produces is miraculous in its quantity, safety, and price; the food that the saint produces is miraculous in both its sudden bursting into reality and its sensuality compared to the artificial food. Its developing-country setting, where famine and unsafe food are recent memories for people who suddenly have access to cheap and abundant artificial food, makes the story particularly poignant – what are the true costs of feeding everyone? What are the true costs of not feeding everyone?

“The Uncharted” by Benjamin Percy

When a team mapping an Alaskan wilderness area disappear, a manager at a Google-like company and a group of friends who operate an adventure YouTube channel go looking for them, discovering that some places don’t want to be mapped.

This is an effectively scary story that ramps up quickly from a death-by-wilderness tale to something more cosmic in its horrors. It felt a bit like “The Ruins” to me, in the way the entity takes advantage of each character’s personal fears.

« Older posts

© 2022 Michael Hartford

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑