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Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories
      The Writing Engine
Luc Reid
      Luc Reid
lucreid.com, 69K bytes
      lucreid.com, 80 pages

Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories
The Writing Engine
Luc Reid
Luc Reid is a Writers of the Future winner whose fiction and nonfiction have also appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and other venues. He's the founder of the Codex online neo-pro writers' group at www.codexwriters.com; author of Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures (Writers Digest Books, 2006) at www.subculturetalk.com; a founding member of flash fiction group The Daily Cabal, on which site well over a hundred of his stories have appeared (www.dailycabal.com); a former radio commentator for Jacksonville, Florida NPR affiliate WJCT; and a columnist for Futurismic (www.futurismic.com) with his Brain Hacks for Writers series.

Luc Reid Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

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Writer of the Future winner, former NPR-affiliate radio commentator, contributor to Abyss & Apex, Brainharvest and others, Luc Reid, writes clean, crisp prose and is chock full of cool, mind-blowing ideas, which he packs into his stories. Consider his novel, Family Skulls, available in a number of ebook formats: a family has curse that they cannot accept help from anyone. Seth, still young, misses a bus but cannot accept help unless he gives something in return, which makes life difficult for the entire family. So Seth has a plan to do something about it....

Also a collection of short shorts, Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories, widely displays his ability for ideas: fiery tornados aswim with sharks, attempted murders on Barbie, a war conducted by clowns. His stories have a penchant for turning familiar ideas on their head: aliens abduct a human to conduct... a taste-test for to discover the superior cheesecake?

His prose style, while predominantly of the clean-and-clear transparency intended to convey strange ideas, at times becomes the spare style of sensitive, insightful wonder such as those in his series on aliens (reminiscent of Carol Emshwiller's work): "Today when the human smiles, you smile back, although your face was not made for that human expression. Without speaking, you sit on the bench with the human. Today it has brought bread, and it tears it in half and hands the larger half to you. For a time, you both feed the pigeons, who are greedy and ungrateful." ["Of the Third Sex, in a Park"]

A few of these stories should be classics, or at least made more widely available through other reprint anthologies, for instance, "The Last Log Entries at the Philadelphia Office of the Centers for Happiness Control" and "When Love Goes Wrong." Another poignant, resonant piece is "I'm Sorry about that Last Letter" (in which the letter writer apologizes for the curse he sent in his last letter -- sort of). "Old Bear," in a few deft strokes, paints the story of a man runs across an old toy after his parents' deaths. This one packed an emotive punch. Reid does a number of humorous stories, the best of which might be "And Then a Curious Thing Happened."

Among the series stories Reid has here, the most successful of which was the darkly and thoroughly imaginative "An Eyeball of Power" (which could use a better name) about an anti-hero who hooks up his brother's physics equipment to a Ouija board which sends him into a nightmare universe of crab people, eyeballs of power that turn consumers into lava trolls, laws that don't make sense, and policemen on ostriches. I'm dying to see this turn into a novella. Hint, hint.

Other series were the Parthenia Rook and Cinderella series. Parthenia Rook is a lark -- all-American adventure girl whose sworn enemy is the Bonobo king who attempts to kill Parthenia through a number of dastardly devices: android babies, sinking zeppelins, zombie photographers, a long lost twin, and assorted bizarre technological gizmos. This captures some of the spirit of the old adventure serials in an updated manner, but maybe it's not something you'd revisit (much as the lure of a Pop-Tart). The Cinderella series re-imagines "happily ever after" -- in some senses similar to but from a different angle that the Shrek movies had taken on. Using fairy tales, the series re-examines marriage although the brief essay and the ideas behind the stories felt more forceful than the execution.

Most of the work here is solid and inspiring. Herein hides a cove of pirate booty -- piles of small gems -- waiting for adventurous readers to plunder. Plus, the brief essays accompanying the stories offer food for thought. In one he asks his readers what the connection between the theme of identity and images of waves might be. This reader offers up fluidity and transient existence.

Another Reid book worth looting is his book on ideas, The Writing Engine. He discusses the psychology of finding and developing ideas. Although similar to books of this type exist, what's unique and fascinating is his dedication to the current psychological aspects of the matter. Other books of this type are pep talks. Reid pep talks and backs up his words with science.

For the genre reader, Luc Reid is a writer to discover. He may not yet be the idea king, but if he continues in this direction, he may well earn that title.

Copyright © 2011 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.


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