Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Tell Me A Story

I've been reading on the Kindle from a recent collection of "dystopian world" short stories. The one I finished at lunch today, and the one at bedtime last night had established a protagonist, built the conditions for a cold, cruel work environment, and were poised to launch the protagonist in one of two or three possible directions when they abruptly ended with a very cryptic event which gave the impression that the author had painted him/herself into a corner and decided the story needed to commit seppuku at that point.

In the case of the first story, it seemed like the author did not want to choose which path Our Hero would take, but instead of presenting this as a dilemma to be pondered by the Fair Reader, just up and ended the tale before the protagonist arrived at the decision point. In the second story, the author has sprinkled some images here and there which are used in the very abrupt ending, but there was not nearly enough build-up to justify the physical transformation, and the author has not given us or Our Hero a motive to take the next step. In fact we don't really know what the next step's choices really are.

The anthology includes a couple of classics (one which was a classic when I was in grade school) and one of last year's Hugo nominees. Most of the stories have endings or decision points, but the ones which don't are frustrating. Had I been the editor, they would not have made it into the volume.

Today's was by far the bigger WTF. Let me give you an example of the way it was written, from another world entirely:
The protagonist owns a stone with a slit in the top. In her dreams we see a sword in a stone. In another dream we see her running away from a knight. In the waking world she is in trouble and abandoned. A package shows up at her door. She opens it, it contains a sword. She tries to fit the sword into the stone but it won't go. While she is having dinner, the sword embeds itself into her chest, and pours its magic into her. The End.

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