I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again right here: folks don’t read enough short fiction. There is something so fulfilling about being able to knock out a great little tidbit in less than a half an hour that has me coming back for more and more. Enhanced: A Hollywood Murder Mystery is just such a gem.
Portrayed from the viewpoint of an AI-powered virtual companion/tour guide in a smartphone, Enhanced is the story of Dave: a guy coming to Hollywood to check out some death.
Honestly, that’s all I’m going to say about the story since every little tidbit counts in this one.
What I will address is the interesting approach to a very realistic future that Mr. Hyatt presents. Set in the not too near future of 2034, Enhanced gives us a very good view of the potential uses that AI might have in our normal life. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Mr. Hyatt’s previous works is the “maybe that could happen” approach to Futurism, and this is probably the most plausible.
The long and the very short of it is: read this novelette and enjoy it. Hell, read it twice.
Here’s the thing, a while back Mr. Hyatt approached me via this very website to ask if I wanted to read his novel The Psychic’s Memoirs. I did, and that was my initial introduction into the Terrifide world. Boy howdy it’s been a wild ride since then, and Psycho Therapy falls perfectly in step with my expectations.
What are those expectations, you ask? Don’t expect anything.
Psycho Therapy opens nicely enough. We are introduced to Tucson police officer James McCabe who has a new position in the department patrolling the streets. We learn pretty quickly that the scenario for this tale is the post-invasion timeline of the Terrafide universe. It appears that, post-invasion, Terrafide Labs has figured out how to “tame” and weaponize the kiaskis: an alien canine-like creature that, by description, reminds me a lot of Mike Mignola’s interpretation of Samael.
In an apparent twist of strange fate, the American justice system is now relying on these kiaskis as a part of a bizarre “gauntlet” for severe sentences, and part of Officer McCabe’s duty — along with his veteran partner — is to monitor the process of said gauntlet and provide sideline support.
Per usual, there is a twist, and that particular twist relates to McCabe’s traumatic relationship with the invasion. I’m not saying anything else because it’s a short story and you can bloody well read it for yourself.
I do love where Psycho Therapy sits in the larger Terrafide universe. Each glimpse Mr. Hyatt releases gives a fog-of-war-esque clearing into a larger world that just bristles and roils around a much much larger, and much more terrifying, underlying situation. Per usual, I have far more questions than answers upon finishing this story, and I see that as an incredibly good thing. Psycho Therapy is a teasing amuse-bouche ahead of such a larger scenario, and it deftly pulled my attention in and left me wanting more.
Short fiction, like a well-executed amuse-bouche, is very hard to pull off satisfyingly. Due to the nature of the back-lying mechanics of it, there is just so much opportunity to lean on one pillar of the story structure while not paying enough attention to one of the others.
Miss Hyatt understands this. The Last Shimmer balances a very well-developed storyline along with fully formed characters and a richly described setting in a way that is downright envious.
Without giving too much of it away, The Last Shimmer is the story of Tiger Lily Dander, her friend Stacy and the fanciful supposition of:
What if our shadows turned on us?
It works, it really really does, and, like I said before, Miss Hyatt develops a situation and a group of characters that work incredibly well for this piece.
This is twenty-seven pages of wonderful middle-grade horror with an absolute bow on top. Sure, it is not my normal fare, but I’m very much reconsidering the role of short fiction as a sort of palate cleanser between bigger works. I definitely needed this, and I really think all of you will enjoy it as well.
This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
To say that Jane Yolen is a legend is putting it lightly. Ms. Yolen has won just about every Science Fiction award available, and has such a prolific body of work that it is almost too daunting.
When I was given the opportunity to preview The Midnight Circus, I jumped at it. Made largely of previously published short stories along with the notes and poems that inspired each of the sixteen stories, The Midnight Circus is a collection of pure magic. The ease with which Ms. Yolen weaves such masterful tales and builds such amazing worlds is nigh sickening. Be it a twisted retelling of the Red Riding Hood tale, or stories of mermaids and wild princesses, Ms. Yolen transitions and build upon each short story in a way that captures the full attention of the reader and leaves them wanting just a bit more.
The most impressive thing to me, however, was he wide variety of cultures represented in this anthology. Everything from a retelling of the Exodus story to Scottish folklore to stories about Russian Jews is represented here. Each and every one with a unique character and character stance authentic to their settings.
Jane Yolen truly is a Queen of storytelling.