Review Roundup

I have a couple of stories out recently, and since (probably) don’t google me quite as obsessively as *I* google me, I thought I might bring them to your attention.

First up, I had “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” in the November issue of Analog.

This is what Lois Tilton at Locus had to say:

Humans settling Tillal, the world of the arbolita, take great pains to avoid harming the margalo trees that sustain much life on the planet. Daro is driving a truck through the forest when he sees an injured arbolita lying on the path. Attempting desperately to avoid striking her, he swerves his truck so that he’s injured and several trees are uprooted. For this crime, the arbolita intend to sentence him to death, but at least he gets a trial.

I’ve seen quite a number of stories concerning humans caught up in alien justice systems, but this one relies on the philosophical thought experiments typified by the trolley problem. I like this use; although the fictional situation might be considered rather contrived, so, of course, are the original thought experiments.

Bob Blough at Tangent says:

Shane Halbach is a new writer to me. He shows promise in “The Story of Daro and the Arbolita” by his use of stories within the alien culture he creates. A man driving a futuristic big rig on an alien planet crashes into some trees in order to avoid killing a native. Due to this, Daro is put on trial for killing the trees. The society is very lightly sketched and the trial involves telling stories to remind the judge of certain truths. It is an interesting idea but too fleeting a glimpse to be very memorable.

So he wants more from me. Got it. Editors take note.

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu says:

“Daro is driving a “suspensor tug” towing a flatbed through a narrow road on the planet Tillal when he sees one of the native arbolita lying on the road in front of him. To save her life, he lets loose the flatbed which destroys several of the sacred margalo trees. He finds himself on trial for his life and must tell a good story to get out of it. Nicely done.

Finally, Rocket Stack Rank says:

Rating: 4, Recommended

On planet Tillal, the Arbolita practically worship their margolo trees, and killing one is a crime–even to save a life.

This is essentially a courtroom drama, even though it’s a very alien court. The hapless public defender makes for good comic relief. The idea of defending oneself by telling a story is interesting.

The story is light enough that we don’t get deeply emotionally involved, although the scene at the very end where the Arbolita Daro saved peeks at him before he goes comes close.

(Although I particularly appreciate the comment there that says, “What a strange and memorable story. The words monkey trial and kangaroo court come to mind but they don’t quite describe the scene of ape-like creatures using fables to judge a man. :-)”

Moving over to “Exit Strategy” in Fantasy Scroll #9,

Quick Sip Reviews says:

This one might not be as Halloween-themed as some of the other ones, but it certainly is a lot of damn fun. Calling to mind older sword and sorcery fantasy stories, it involves a dwarf, a heist, and a dragon. And I’m not going to lie, this one reads an awful lot like a D&D session, but that’s never really bothered me. It reads like a really fun D&D session, filled with fun characters and people doing their best to find the weakness of a tough opponent and find a way to bend a few rules. In any fantasy where there’s a rather rigid magic system, there are situations where things can be interpreted rather loosely. And here things get a bit clever as Delevan, the dwarf, and his fellow thieves seek to filch a whole lot of coin from a powerful dragon. There is a bit of back-story as the characters argue before agreeing to team up, and a lot of banter as things go from bad to worse to everything-was-fine-from-the-start. The characterization might not be incredibly deep, but sometimes that’s not the point. Sometimes the point is seeing people get eaten by a dragon and live to tell about it. Fast and with a delightful and rather grumpy voice, the story does what it sets out to do: to entertain. Job well done.

Overall, very positive. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed my stories or left me a comment. If the worst thing you can say is, “This story was too short,” I guess I’m doing all right. 🙂

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