Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ResAliens #4, a Review

Residential Aliens, a "speculative fiction [magazine] from the Seven Stars," is a bi-monthly publication that caters mostly to an electronic audience.  The niche ResAliens has is that it is a spiritually infused magazine, and its stories have a "moral or spiritual thread that appeals to the broad and varied interests of fans of speculative fiction."  (Note, this doesn't mean that the authors are Christians, as is commonly associated with the word spiritual, but the stories themselves deal with this motif.)

"Fishing the Moons of Jupiter," by Jason Rizos, tells an interesting and entertaining story on a deep-space fishing trip.  Morris, the protagonist, used to be a crab fisherman back on earth, but through various circumstances, wound up getting a job with a space crew to do some fishing work for an elusive worm.  The Hephaestus Worm has a liquid-hot, magma belly, and it is highly sought after because of its ability to produce a clean source of incredible power.  Unfortunately, the worm is also very difficult to catch.

The dialogue between Morris and his team is quick paced and realistic.  In parts, it's like watching an episode of Deadliest Catch (as mentioned in the opening note from Editor John Ottinger III), and the reader gets a great sense of how well these characters like and know each other.

Overall, this short story was intriguing enough to make me wonder about the current state of the world and how advanced it was if it is doing deep-space research now.  The worm was fascinating, and the fishing scenes were tense and enjoyable.  Plus, the ending was great.  This is an excellent quick read, and possibly my favorite from the collection.

"Overgrown," by Stoney Setzer, reads just like a standard, pulp sci-fi story.  Pink goo from outer space and a curious scientist make an unconventional, but deadly, monster.  This story was fun to read, but I found it lacking compared to the excellent first one.

"Immortals," by Leah Darrow, was frustrating to read because I so wanted to know more about what was going on.  The story never reveals why some things are, but then again, in the end, it's not important.  This was a very enjoyable read, focusing on the idea of immortality and a society where death is almost a thing of the past.

"End of Eden," by Shane Collins, is a straightforward post-apocalyptic short story that deals with two survivors trying to eke out their way to safety.  The prose was vivid and tragic, the pace quick, the science ingenious, and the overall gist a gritty ride.  I really enjoyed this piece.

"Salieri," by Marina Julia Neary, could almost be true.  It's a beautiful story with many themes going on, and in some ways it reminded me of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  Two young pupils at the University are both at the top of their class, and their relationship is... interesting.  I think this may be my second favorite story from this collection.

"The King of Infinite Space," by Jason Reynolds, seems odd and out of place in this volume.  It was certainly my least favorite read, in part due to the almost contrived ending, surely familiar to anyone with an ear for urban legends.  Also, the speculative aspect of this story fell very flat in respect to the rest of the included stories.  Perhaps if this was in a different collection or first in the table of contents then I wouldn't have been as disappointed, but as it is, I wasn't too impressed with this, even though it was smart and well-written.

The final story, "The Testament," by Michael C. Lea, is another great one.  Through court testaments, we learn of the events that led to the death of a researcher and why her death matters (and to whom).  This piece was fascinating and kept me hooked up through the ending.  This story definitely makes the reader think, and it was a fun tale to read and discover what was going on.

Overall, ResAliens #4 is a highly enjoyable collection of spiritually sci-fi stories.  Most had me thinking about different things after I finished, and that's one thing I look for in fiction, especially short fiction.  While I want to be entertained, I also want to think, and these stories do both very well.  If you're hungry for some good, short fiction, why not try Residential Aliens?  I think it's easily worth the asking price of $2 for the digital download (click here if interested). 

*FTC thingy and a Note:  I received a general email from ResAliens #4 guest editor and acclaimed blogger John Ottinger III, of Grasping for the Wind, if I'd be interested in reviewing the current issue, and I happily agreed, intrigued by the web-zine's premise.  Thus, I paid nothing for this collection of stories.  Also, I was not asked to endorse the magazine or praise the stories, but I felt both were worthy of it.


Anonymous said...

they were smart to ask you, you do great write-ups.

a few peaked my interest, but the majority have me thinking a few of my friends would really enjoy ResAliens.

Angie said...

Thanks for an honest and balanced review. I have enjoyed ResAliens in the past. I even had a story published in the online zine last year. It's a great market.

Brandon said...

That's cool you reviewed their magazine. That's a great idea on rez aliens part.

Lyn said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and review our micropress offering! Lyn from ResAliens

logankstewart said...

@L: Thank you for the kind words. I wasn't personally asked, just on a listserv of bloggers that review. I guess that's kind of being asked...

@Angie: Cool. I read one of your stories, but I don't remember which it was. I believe it was "Ripped."

@Brandon: I thought it was pretty cool, too.

@Lyn: Thanks for allowing me a review copy to read. Quite enjoyable, I say!

Grasping for the Wind said...

Thorough review Logan. I appreciate your honest commentary. Glad you liked it so much, I hope others do as well!

logankstewart said...

@John: Thank you for the opportunity to read it. Hopefully ResAliens picks up some fans from my post.

Krista said...

Hey, Logan!!!

Long time, I know! Great review(s) I think I might like this... I haven't read any short stories in quite sometime.

So how are you?! I see your about to read Sandersons Latest! OH MY it was fantastic!! I am so excited about the next one, but completely disappointed it'll be at least a year till the next one comes out... such a bummer! But, hey, The Wise Mans Fear is supposed to come out sometime this coming year! YAY!

Hey, and Do You mind if I ask what Fantasy book has been your favorite so far this year? I really want a good one to dive into. It's always hard for me to decide on a good fantasy after reading Sanderson... Plus, my life has been super chaotic lately and its been really hard to get around the blog sphere to catch up on the latest fantasy read or even browse the book store, you know.

Well, Logan, I hope you and your family are doing well! Miss your blog... I remember yours was the first I ever found really entertaining, interesting, and just plain awesome! You will never be rid of me.. haha ;)


Graptak said...

Thanks for the review, and the kind words on my story.

--Michael C. Lea

logankstewart said...

@Krista: Hey stranger. Nice to hear from you. Sanderson's Way of Kings has been in my possession since its release date, but I've been putting it off, wanting to savor it as much as possible 'ere I read it. I'm pretty excited about Rothfuss' next book, supposedly 3/11 of next year. Also, Sanderson's Mistborn novella is supposed to come out next year, so it won't be a year completely devoid of the man.

As for my favorite fantasy read this year, it's without a doubt Peter Brett's The Warded Man. My review's here if you wanna read it. I really, really liked this book a lot, saying it ranked up there with the Big Three (Rothfuss, Sanderson, Abercrombie). And, it's available in paperback now!

Also, Justin Cronin's The Passage was very good, too, though a little bleak.

It's good to hear from you. Hope all's going well for you and your family.

@Michael: Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for writing such an entertaining and thought-provoking piece. Best of luck!

Krista said...

Really, Logan, another Mistborn! YES! So very awesome!
Yeah, I was trying to savor Sandersons latest by reading it as slow as possible, which didn't turn out to be as long as I would have liked! LOL! I absolutely loved this book... Possibly my top favorite of Sandersons! He is such a good writer it amazes every time I read his work. His books, to me, just flow so easy its like I glide from one page to the next, you know?....

Read your review yesterday on The Warded Man I had to stop at the book store on my way home from work today! I just had to have it after what you had to say about it. Thanks for the recommendation.


logankstewart said...

@Krista: It's gonna be hard to top Mistborn, but I'm sure Sanderson won't disappoint.

I hope you like The Warded Man as much as I did. I'm actually reading the sequel right now.

Graptak said...

My story "Testament," reviewed here, is nominated for best Science Fiction / Fantasy Story in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll... if you haven't voted and enjoy my work, please consider stopping by and voting!