“Danger to Society” by Emilie Collyer
Reviewed by Christos Antonaros
Aurealis 94 has three short stories, each one as good as the other. Humorous, mysterious and well written, they will make the reader smile in satisfaction after finishing them.
First, comes the science fiction story “Danger to Society” by Emilie Collyer, where the world’s first act of banishment by launching a life-pod into space is about to occur, and the prisoner sentenced to death is Robyn Ash, accused of a train bombing that killed 156 innocents. Cat Zenith, the protagonist, is a curious journalist who knows how to chase a good story using any necessary means, and so she covers the event for her network. At some point, Cat will come to suspect that Robyn Ash is guilty of even more crimes and that an inmate Cat knows personally is falsely accused. Thus, she will begin a struggle to make Robyn Ash confess the rest of his crimes. A story full of action, humorous and clever dialog, and descriptive character reactions. Even though we do not get to read enough about the protagonist’s background, we get the necessary information to go on with the story. The plot is pleasant, with a rising climax through mystery and non-stop action. The details around a journalist’s modus operandi suggest that the author has experience in the specific profession.
In “Surfing Time” by Matthew R. Ward, we meet Antman and Bazz, two surfing buddies who love the waves more than anything, with the latter being a wonder boy. Everything goes well until Bazz’s stepfather destroys the thing he loves the most, his surfboard, to teach him a life lesson. After a long period, Antman will find Bazz revealing his latest accomplishment: a time machine. Bazz’s goal is to use his invention to prevent his father’s death. Antman follows his best friend blindly to discover that the way Bazz plans to travel back in time is by surfing the tides of time itself. Remarkably written in the first person, this story creates numerous positive feelings. The dialog, as much as the inner monolog, is so genuine and funny that it surprises and entertains the reader with each new character talent, or secret, revealed. A pleasant science fiction read, with an expected, but well deserved, ending.
Last comes the short story “The Least of Things” by Jen White, where we meet April, a woman with more than one shadow of the past haunting her. In a small town called Hills Point, a series of supernatural phenomena call out for April’s profession as a journalist. After spending some time in the particular location, though, April will realize that sometimes judging a situation before witnessing the truth is an enormous mistake. The author takes some time at the beginning of the story to introduce the protagonist’s mental state, and she does it in an excellent way. Each character differs from the rest in many ways. An enjoyable read with a good sense of humor, much mystery, and intellectual character development.
Christos Antonaros is a dark fiction author with a love for European mythology.