This is a short story collection celebrating the output of Vision Writers, a writing group from Brisbane, Australia that has apparently been going for eighteen years – quite a track record. For this reason, I’m going to tweak my usual format and specifically discuss the stories included in the sample – it feels slightly unfair to put all the pressure on them, but that’s what I have to judge…
Not bad. It’s striking, has a contemporary (probably Young Adult, probably Sci-Fi) feel to it.
Formatting, Grammar & Spelling:
Professional, no errors noted, Australian English (I presume).
18/20 – S. Elliot Brandis
The collection kicks off with a piece of pseudo-Middle Eastern sci-fantasy, a body-modded heroine with a heart of gold (that’s not the mod I’m talking about, btw), risking persecution for sharing a crust of bread with the guttersnipes while protecting a shady past or two. I felt a little like the plotting and world building battled for dominance and both lost to a surprise attack from the word count, but it’s not bad. Hints at something larger – if it isn’t actually part of an author’s secondary world, maybe it rose from the ashes of a dead one.
1800 – Talitha Kalago
I rolled my eyes a bit at the quickie disclaimer on this one: a short story set in the author’s YA supernatural fantasy series? Vampires and werewolves? Stake me now, shoot me now, etc. What I got was a fair bit more interesting than my eyes expected, though – a trio of snarky youngish adults trekking through the outback looking for interesting wildlife find something a bit more than just interesting.
And yes, okay, it’s not the outback, it’s a slice of Aussie jungle or something like that… but, you know, to the rest of the world anything down under that doesn’t have the Sydney Opera House looming over it is “outback”. And, also yes, the heroine narrator isn’t quite human and probably has lots of angst-ridden issues as a result, but it wasn’t too bad at the point the sample drew a curtain across itself.
Observations & Conclusion:
Short sample this, and my feeling as far as collection samplers are concerned is that it’s a good idea to give at least two full stories for a reader to test the waters with (although I guess that depends on how many are in the collection, of course). The impression so far is that this is half-celebratory nod to what sounds like a nicely supportive, effective writers’ group, half-marketing tool for all writers involved. However, although I didn’t have much to go on, I was happy enough with what I got – and, frankly, offer me ten or more stories for a dollar and I’ll probably buy it on general principles…
AMENDMENT: I’ve just discovered that this collection is now available for free.
= Technicalities =
Publisher: Vision Writers
Price: $1.00 (Oct 2014)