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For “Irruption” by John W. Otte
, you need to grab something and hold on tight. It starts with action and never lets up. Each scene in this cross genre work is replete with intricate description without getting ponderous.
The main character, Charles, loves his hair, hates helicopters, and is an annoying coward through the first half. An old crone appears, offering to help with the bigger evil that approaches. Like most mortals, Charles refuses and comes out guns a’ blazing, which gets him no where. So he decides to listen to the old crone. There are some clichéd elements, but they are handled nicely and the dialogue especially is professional and proficient.
Dragons, Knights, & Angels conducted their annual fiction contest in July. The readers get the cream of the crop in one place. Judging by the caliber of the works, I know the editors had a difficult time naming the winner. Congratulations to all!
First Prize:“Moonshot” by Chris Mikesell has a misguided sense of setting at first. By the fifth paragraph, with talk of moon stations and rockets, it finally becomes clear—a future where man lives on the moon without God. A goodhearted man, Clay Bardell, decides to try to take religion to the moon-dwellers. (Clay is an excellent choice for a man of God.) The writing is well rounded, and the dialogue clever.
We are led through several paragraphs describing in great detail each of the good Parson Bardell’s actions, including how soft the towels are and what he had for dinner. I couldn’t help wondering where all this detail would lead, if anywhere. While I enjoy reading about the little things in a story, it has to take me somewhere. These led to the edge of a sinkhole and left me there.
Second Prize: “Immortal” by Daniel I. Weaver is confusing at first. There is an insurmountable level of inner conflict in the main character, Ethan. He is a spirit bound to Earth by something we do not know … yet. He makes a run for it, wanting to sample what he can from mortal life just out of reach, but is pulled back to the cold darkness that is his eternity. The second tale in this contest that has to do with death and children, the writing itself is irresistible. Though some of the story turned morbid with a prevalent talk of shovels, I found myself unable to stop reading.
Honorable Mention: “Speaking in Arms – A Beast Fable” by C. M. Huard is a spirit soothing tale of the unknown, underwater world of the deeper ocean. Huard uses creatures that few humans have seen and gives them personalities and human qualities. Her writing is genuine and easy on the reader, making it no hard task to empathize with the characters and their plight. This could be called a revamped "Lion and the Mouse" tale with the thorn in the lion’s paw being a squid’s ink, and the tiny mouse’s efforts to free the lion illustrative of the ways of deep-sea creatures. A true delight and the most original piece I have read in a long while.
Honorable Mention: “The Diary” by John Kuhn progresses at a predictable rate, although I wish the writer hadn’t felt the need to take us through almost a whole week for us to comprehend what was going to happen. This reader got nothing from the story, really. It has a sad ending; even though a lesson is learned, it doesn’t do much good. A dark story about children is not to my preference, but anyone with an insatiable thirst for the likes of Stephen King will enjoy this macabre piece.