Diabolical Plots #55, September 2019
Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett
There were three new short stories in the 55th issue of Diabolical Plots.
“Empathy Bee” by Forrest Brazeal
Alex is a contestant at the national Empathy Bee in this SF short. With chip implants in the heads of all kids, purely academic competitions are pointless, hence more subjective competitions now thrive.
But his parents are having a marital issue, which distorts Alex’s view of life; not to mention his ability to empathize. Feeling abandoned, can he finally come through as a champion?
This was a fun short story that engaged the reader while painting a picture of the future.
“Dear Parents, Your Child Is Not the Chosen One” by P. G. Galalis
In this short fantasy, children attending the Avalon academy learn to be heroes, graded at various levels from Rapscallion to Chosen One. Rodney, a young student at the academy, is not developing to his potential, prompting his parents to engage the teacher in an endless cycle of disagreement over his behavior and her role in his failures.
Told through a series of responding emails from the teacher to the parents, the story was humorous but at times a little slow.
“Fresh Dates” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
Trapped inside the arrivals terminal, Vishaljeet faces a stubborn vending machine in this short SF story. Vashaljeet is an Indian Sikh who US immigration confuses with being Muslim because of his turban and refuses him entry back to the USA even though he has lived there for years and is a legal immigrant.
Vishaljeet sees a package of green dates offered in the vending machine that remind him of his childhood in his original homeland. But each time the machine gives him a different product, and each wrongly filled order reminds him of a humiliation he had to endure when he first came to the States.
This was a thought-provoking short story that read a little slowly.