Hub, Issues #4 - #7

Monday, 18 June 2007 18:00 Paul J. Iutzi
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"A Hint of Mystery" by Ian Whates
"Lenny and the Travel Ninja" by Alasdair Stuart
"Career Change" by John H. Stevens
"Wings of Night" by Allyson Bird

Something almost happens in Ian Whates's "A Hint of Mystery." For four pages, a chef prepares to go to a celebration while musing about the hint of mystery that has earned him his third Michelin star. It's an interesting setup for a story, but just when something is going to happen, it ends. It's a lot like the cable cutting out right before the climax of your favorite TV show. Still, it's just four pages long, and the idea is interesting, so, if you can handle the frustration, check it out.

With a title like "Lenny and the Travel Ninja," how can you go wrong? Alasdair Stuart's short about a man whose interstellar vacation goes wrong in all the right ways after being picked up by a "travel ninja" is best described as a fun romp. There are a few rough spots where it feels like some context is missing for a few lines, but the quirky tone and ideas more than make up for any minor prose blemishes. If you get a chance, give it a read.

John H. Stevens's "Career Change" captures the dread that keeps most of us who live in the cubicle farm chained to our jobs year after year: either suffer the indignities of a corporate life or end up a beggar in the streets. Our protagonist is Fred, a typical corporate IT drone with a maliciously ignorant boss. On the way to work one day, a beggar that he gives money to each day gives him a lucky coin. Fred takes it without thinking about whether even the good luck of a beggar is something he really wants.

So, what does "Career Change" do with that dread once it captures it? Not much. Rather than pointing out that the dread is based on a false dilemma—there are other options—it opts for a cute ending that reinforces the dread. This doesn't hurt the entertainment value of the story, though. At two and a half pages, it's a good read. Well worth heading over to Hub's site for a look.

Hi. How are you? Good? Really? Great, I'm glad to hear that. In which case, don't read Allyson Bird's "Wings of Night."

Is it bad? Oh, no. No, no, no. Not at all. It's very effective. Her prose did a fantastic job of making me feel the descent of a woman from just having issues to becoming a danger to others—not that there is any real reason for this descent. Sure, all the guys she meets want to have sex with her, but if that was all it took for a woman to take up androcide, there wouldn't be any heterosexual men left in the world. Hey, the character is insane; expecting rational behavior from her is a bit silly.

No, the reason not to read "Wind of Night" is that you are feeling good. See, feeling good is good, and I prefer to encourage it. You won't feel good after reading "Wings of Night." It's depressing. Literally. There is a blackness to its mood that I recognize. It usually means I'm going to be spending the next few days either asleep or thinking it would be better if I were. So, don't read "Wings of Night" now. Wait until sometime when you're feeling bad, and it'll make you feel . . . worse. Hm. OK, that's not great either.