The Dentist’s Tale, Remembering You Fondly From Time to Time, and Wounded Soil

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"The Dentist’s Tale" by Janet Brown
"Remembering You Fondly from Time to Time" by Christopher J. Oatis
"Wounded Soil" by M.K. Wintersong

"The Dentist’s Tale" by Janet Brown, "Remembering You Fondly from Time to Time" by Christopher J. Oatis, and "Wounded Soil" by M.K. Wintersong are three short stories published by Jupiter World Press as e-books. The website for Jupiter World Press explains that they maintain a small staff of editors who work closely with their authors. However, if these stories are any indication, it might behoove them to increase that staff or take other steps to increase the attention to individual works. These lack the polish and professionalism indicative of a careful editorial touch.

ImageIn "The Dentist’s Tale," Hal discovers that his friend, Dr. Ken Bradley, may not be the mild-mannered dentist he appears to be. He may, in fact, be an alien, out to conduct terrible medical experiments on humankind. This story is fairly enjoyable, although not at all surprising. It relies on the standard tropes of many a classic "Twilight Zone" episode—small town paranoia and gossip, and the classic fear of the "other." Unfortunately, such stories have a too-familiar Cold War ring, and without anything new or any surprising twist, "The Dentist’s Tale" left me a bit flat.

Publisher: Jupiter World Press (June 2006)
eBook Price: $1.25

Image"Remembering You Fondly from Time to Time" is the tale of a man who goes back in time, with the help of some college students from the future, to change the past. As the story opens, John Williams has just learned a terrible secret from the lips of his dying wife. He has already been approached by a young man from the future, who returns at this point and offers him the chance to undo the awful deed. Using a device the young man gives him, John finds himself in a clichéd future, where it seems all clothes and blankets are made of some metallic substance and people have names like "Percy Portal" and "Zana Cubeson." Despite the clearly serious intent of the story, I had trouble taking this cartoonish future world seriously.

From this point forward, I had increasing difficulty getting through the story. The characters lurch along through stilted dialogue, fuzzy motives, and inconsistent actions toward a conclusion I found less than satisfying. I found it very difficult to understand, let alone empathize with, John, who angrily asserts that he only has three hours to get back in time and change the past (Why? He can travel in time), but then takes the time to mess around with Zana’s computer in her dorm room. I was also distracted by the many awkward constructions and poor choices of words, which at best stopped the flow of the story, and at worst created confusion as to what was actually happening. The climactic scene involving John’s two loves was particularly unclear, and also included some baffling behavior from John—why does he take time to read Percy’s journal in the midst of the critical event he wants to witness, and potentially change? Either John is very easily distracted, or these out-of-character moments are devices to offer explanations to the reader.
Publisher: Jupiter World Press (May 2006)
eBook Price: $1.49

In "Wounded Soil," Annis, an air force officer (at least it’s air force throughout most of the text; the first mention of her military service has her in the army) reluctantly returns to Earth from exploring space after an injury sustained in an accident aboard ship. Grounded by her injury, she hopes to help her grandparents save their failing farm using experimental technology she helped develop in space.

Like "Remembering You Fondly from Time to Time," this story suffers from a lack of editing. I understood that I was supposed to sympathize with Annis and her plight, removed from her true calling by her injury, and then watch her grow as she decides to help her grandparents save their farm. However, I was too distracted by inconsistencies, awkward prose, word usage and grammar mistakes, and misspellings to do so.

The injury itself gave me pause, as it seemed to flare up when it was convenient for the plot. She could walk three miles to get back to the farm, and she could do heavy farm work, but there was so much nerve damage she couldn’t be in space. I would need further explanation to believe this. As it was, the injury seemed like a convenient device to pull Annis away from her beloved space exploration and back to Earth where she is needed.

This tale could also be more focused. It meanders on and on for pages as Annis reminisces about her childhood, remembers the accident that has landed her back on Earth, and longs to go back to space. It’s not quite clear when she makes the decision to help her grandparents save their farm—it seems she has this in mind at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle she decides (again?) to go forward with the plan and mentally styles herself a "21st century sacrificial virgin."
Publisher: Jupiter World Press (July 2006)
eBook Price: $1.49

In summary, I would not recommend any of these three stories. "The Dentist’s Tale," while mildly enjoyable, is not particularly original, and "Remembering You Fondly from Time to Time" and "Wounded Soil" could have benefited from significant editing prior to publication.