Hello Niners and Niner fans. I came back from being gone for ever and ever to discover that it's serial season, and my oh my how the stories do bloom! This week, our faithful Niner authors have put together an excellent sampling of Thursday Tales that only whetted my appetite for their previous chapters. Also in the mix we have one stand alone tale by a newcomer to writing, and whose claim to fame in this week's batch is precociousness. Each writer has a different voice, and they're all pleasant. Please, do them the honor of reading their work and leaving them some feedback.
It's great to be back and it's even greater to see that the stories are still coming. I'm effusive this week. :)
Bridge Builder, chapter 82: Balance, Shini: R.O.A.C.H.
Bridge Builder has been one of my favorite stories since its first chapter. Granted, I've missed quite a lot of installments up to now, but this latest chapter brought a smile to my face as I revisited two of my favorite characters in all of fiction, Alex and Carbon. I can't begin to tell you what's happened through the "present" except that now Alex and Carbon are a couple and they are so cute I want to squee. And I hate squeeing. Feels gross.
Our adorable couple are on a ship (maybe...I think!) that is so huge it has a maglev train in it. Alex, the only human among the Carbon's race, the Tslao, is feeling a bit like a fish out of water. I'm a little out of the loop so I don't understand everything that's going on, but the workings between the two main characters come through loud and clear. Their relationship has blossomed since I last saw them, and as I read I could recognize echoes of the Alex and Carbon I first met in 2010. As a stand alone, this story works best to illustrate the sweet, humor-filled relationship the protagonists share, because some of the details bear more explanation. The kind you get from reading the first 81 chapters. Don't be put off by that. Just go read it. You won't be sorry.
Emma is a real fan of horses, unlike her fellow dwin. When confronted with a few, she throws off the shackles of tradition and embraces the moment. When confronted with a rakish human, well, she throws off the shackles of tradition and embraces the moment. This is the kind of girl protagonist that I like! hdgotham throws down in the characterization arena, fleshing out our shero and the handsome devil Lison. They share some dialogue with piquant-but-not-quite-spicy undertones, and and honestly, by the time I finished reading it I had one of those moments where I suddenly realized I was reading. hdgotham's hand here is delicate and steady, and I was totally caught up in it. This story feels really elegant without being ornate; it was refreshing.
What's a dwin? Not telling. Go read it!
Hot Plasma, Cold Dames - Chapter 2: Fury, DukeNorik
This is the second installment of a story by a Niner that is new since I last Rolled a Call. Here we have a detective story that calls to mind the gritty pulps of yore. Detectives Samuel Richards and Daniel McCarthy are dealing with some unpleasant business. Things begin to get a little tense when they have to hit the streets and get down to detecting.
DukeNorik has a great eye for selective details, and this is good and a bit uneven, but there is a preponderance of good. You won't find your lush detail porn here, but if your mind has any sort of imagination engine, it will be well-oiled and humming smoothly, taking you on a reader's-eye view of the characters and locations Richards and McCarthy's world. At one point I did wonder if I had slipped into a spy story by mistake, but DukeNorik slides into home with an ending that makes me kind of regret that it's not already Thursday so I can see what happens. Start with Chapter 1, which establishes some well-done characterization, and then hie yourself thither to the second chapter.
Leaving Earth, pinkbob
This one is the sole stand alone story of the week, though to hear pinkbob tell it, it's only chapter 1 of an ongoing story. The author of this story is a nine-year old who wanted to try her hand at science fiction, and ended up writing an entire flash fiction. Tilly is a young woman who feels she doesn't have a place in the world. When she strikes out on her own, things immediately go wrong but a chance encounter with a young girl could change Tilly's luck for the better.
This freshman effort from pinkbob is a sweet, feel-good story about a young lady trying to find her way in life. It's hard to write anything without being biased, because I've been raising pinkbob since she was a tiny, eyebrow-free entity. I will give her credit where credit is due, however: you can't get this child to write anything more than she is absolutely required to if paper is involved, but once typing is brought into the equation, she's apparently a machine. Check out her story, if for no other reason than to lament that she left out her subplot of Jake's opponent, who pretends to be a journalist in order to sneak into Tilly's room and rifle through her belongings to suss out her relationship with Jake.
The Girl Who Laughs: Chapter 2, theTummy
Wrapping up this week's missed serial beginnings is the second part of The Girl Who Laughs, which taught me the most important thing I have learned today: I want to punch Sister Talia. I always consider it a sign of good characterization when I want to beat up a story character. I think Veronica, the main character of this piece, does too. She's in the temple of the sisterhood of Droll, which seems far too stifling for the clever girl. A bad day turns mysterious when Veronica's asked by one of her favorite Sisters to do a favor for the eponymous Lord Droll. From the sounds of it, it's dangerous and potentially troublesome, but I don't think Veronica will let that stop her.
theTummy tells a good tale, liberally sprinkled with tidbits of information about the world our shero inhabits. Veronica comes through as an intelligent, self-determined character. I don't know much about her yet but she feels like the kind of character I'd want my young womanling to read about. The narrative is tight and theTummy draws us right away into Veronica's life, as if we're following behind her through this episode. Have a walk with Veronica, and punch Talia for her.
Three-Man Crew Chapter 9.3, TemporalSword
Continuing with my trend of showing up at not-the-beginning-of-a-series, I had a look at this story and was crushed (in a good way). This time, my excursions into chapters after "1" took me to the end of the world- literally. Issa and Ryek are in a craft orbiting a ruined Earth. Unable to resist any story that begins (for me) with a destroyed Earth, I rushed on. TemporalSword levies some formidable details about the mundanities of a thoroughly shaken life, and the results are as poignant as they are horrifying. Little character details crop up to help color in the desolate picture, and the result is an effective portrait of humans in disaster mode, to the twenty-fifth power.
If you're a fan of science fiction, do yourself a favor and check this out. Just don't try to blame me if you stay up too late reading all the chapters.
Underground Princes Part 4, Myseri
In a world beneath our feet, there are twelve princes. I can't tell you what they're the princes of (but oh gosh I want to say THE UNIVEEEEERRRSEEE!) but I get the feeling if I stick around long enough I'll find out. Charlie and his friend "Dairy" Mary encounter a Russian man who tells Mary why Cyrus, a man who attacked her, is targeting her. It may or may not be related to her milk-related epithet.
This series was the first I encountered upon returning from my extended hiatus, and as expected, Myseri confidently lays down a short tale that guides the reader through its narrative flow. Myseri is a real genius at the bite-sized serial tale, and there is a lot to like about this episode, as well as the entire series. Only some of that has to do with the way I automatically associate the title with Highlander. This series is worth your time.
There's no good reason not to while away a little time with these short fiction delights. See you at next Roll Call!