I was looking forward to reading this double collection of horror short stories after hearing Ligotti be recommended by so many other writers I admire. And I can see why there was so much hype. I was immensely impressed, and Ligotti has become my favorite living horror writer and probably the best writer of weird fiction since Lovecraft. Ligotti is like the Ted Chiang of horror—not in terms of theme or content, but in the fact that they only write short stories and their stories are all fantastic and deep philosophically. Ligotti’s brand of horror is highly cerebral. He is a master of prose style, which is similar to Lovecraft’s in its verbosity and poetic beauty. Ligotti is also similar to Lovecraft in his content and themes—primarily extreme nihilism. His nonfiction book, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, which I read last year, lays out his antinatalist worldview—a worldview I do not share—though I enjoy reading about those dark themes in fiction. After all, what could be more horrific than the idea that human life doesn’t matter and it would be better if we did not exist?
Work for Idle Hands was originally written in 2016 as a 9,000-word short story. At that time I was still pursuing screenwriting in tandem with prose writing, so I decided to adapt the story into a screenplay. But after unsuccessfully trying to pitch the screenplay to agents and producers, I decided to re-adapt it back into prose form, but longer since I had expanded the original short story when adapting it into movie form. This final version is a sort of amalgam of the short story and screenplay, which I expanded upon further. The final word count is triple the length of the original short story, at almost 30,000 words. I think this novella version is the best of the three. The novella may be my favorite form for a story. It is the perfect length to tell a full story and develop characters without getting bogged down by side-plots.
Smith has been working on the assembly line at Ovivo for seventeen years, building the same steel triangles 720 times per day. He never knew what the parts were for—that was classified information—but he assumed the triangles were one small cog of a larger machine, something important and meaningful to the world in some way.
At least Smith thought so, until mistakenly entering the wrong production room one day. Inside, he would discover the workers next door disassembling the same parts he and his team put together. All his hard work, immediately undone. Why?
The revelation sets Smith on an investigative journey throughout the Ovivo factory, up the chain of corporate hierarchy, in search of what he and his co-workers are supposed to be building there and why.
The truth about Smith’s job may turn his entire world upside down—that is if he can uncover the company’s secrets without being fired… or worse.
I first read this book about ten years ago when I started reading science fiction novels. I repeatedly saw Snow Crash on many “greatest sci-fi books” lists and it was considered the best in the cyberpunk genre (along with William Gibson’s Neuromancer). When I first read Snow Crash, (and Neuromancer for that matter) I liked parts of it, but most of the book went over my head. I was looking for cyberpunk action (such as the computer hacking and futuristic skateboarding) and became bored by the ancient religious and evolution of language aspects, which I did not fully understand. I didn’t recognize it as being a portrayal of an anarcho-capitalist society the first time around, as I did not know what that was. Ten years older and wiser, I now find the philosophical aspects of the book the most fascinating, and the hacking, action, and skateboarding parts are like gravy on top. Snow Crash is like all my varied interests (technology, futurism, virtual reality, hacking, skateboarding, pizza delivery, punk rock, samurai swords, economics, history, philosophy, libertarianism, ancient religion, language, and the evolution of consciousness) all rolled into one book. It doesn’t seem like there can be that many different ideas in one novel but there are and it all somehow fits together.
Death by Self-Driving Car is a collection of three short stories about the near-future prospects of autonomous automobiles and their potential impact on society.
“The Autonomous Trolley Problem” is a new spin on the classic philosophical thought experiment. What was originally proposed as an insoluble ethical dilemma may soon need to be solved when programming self-driving algorithms in the real world.
“Redundant Truckers” is about the mass unemployment former truck drivers could face in the wake of self-driving semi-trucks such as those being developed by Uber’s “Otto,” as well as the possibility of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to address that issue.
Finally, the titular story, “Death by Self-Driving Car,” is a Sherlock Holmes-style detective mystery about an insurance investigator hired to look into a rare self-driving car accident that resulted in the death of a human passenger.
Death by Self-Driving Car is now available as an ebook on Amazon, free to read for Kindle Unlimited members. You can also buy the ebook from me directly via PayPal, Cash App, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies at any price of your choosing (including free if money is a problem for you). Just email me with your preferred file format (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) and payment method.
Story Addict is a collection of 27 short stories written between 2010 and 2018, spanning a variety of genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, thriller, literary, magical realism, dark humor, and satire. There’s time travel, telepathy, parallel universes, aliens, robots, artificial intelligence, hackers, spies, invisibility, dinosaurs, wizards, talking jellyfish, and more. The lengths of the stories vary from 300 words to over 6,000 (60,000 words in total). Eight of the stories have been previously published while nineteen are new to this collection. The stories are not connected and can be read in any order. Continue reading →
The big theme of this year’s list is short stories and short story collections. I’ve recently been drawn to shorter fiction, both as a reader and a writer. I love being able to finish a story in one sitting. The best part of any story is the ending—it makes or breaks the story—which is why I’m not so much a fan of long-running multi-book series (ortelevision shows). There’s only so much time in the day, and while some series are worth the length (like Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle), I can’t afford to read too many series. I prefer standalone novels or something even shorter, like novellas, novelettes, and short stories. By reading short fiction, I’m able to get a complete story with a (hopefully) satisfying ending, plus read a wider selection of different authors and genres. Continue reading →