I’ve written on S. A. Barton’s fiction before in my review of his tale “Dark” and his unusual brand of (sometimes) science-fiction, often involving near-future or recent-past settings. This is an anthology of five short stories, each with its own chapter, and the fourth itself with 5 chapters.
Chapter 1, Go Into The Light, is a nice twist on the alien abduction theme, in which the protagonist is…rescued…in an unusual way, and without the classic embarrassing medical examination, by an alien intelligence working to investigate humanity for its strange masters. There’s no leeway for UFO conspiracy theorists here, with no suggestion of any earthly governments’ awareness of the aliens, a species apparently new to humanity’s existence. I won’t tell you what the intelligence does with the people it rescues. Spoilers!
Chapter 2, Baby Wipes, is an neat little account of what happens in a multiverse of infinite possibilities when human life is reconstructed after destroying itself by it’s own stupidity only moments before. The alien character, Ephguelph, notes our propensity to talk to imaginary friends much of the time, and the results its had on us as a species. The aliens are essentially benevolent, but not overly spiritual types, just pragmatic about the need for civility in a community of other civilizations, including feral species. I like the humanistic slant this story takes, with humans being generalists via our feral status — a source of our dysfunction as well as our uniqueness. but our greatest signature achievement as a species? – Definitely baby-wipes.
Chapter 3, Velocity, is a tale of alien contact, the first radio signals received from an alien civilization, and the relative calm despite the media and religious hubbub resulting from the announcement, and the tragic message uncovered in the decoding the incoming signal as its source approaches our solar system. Spoilers again!
Chapter 4, All The Luck In The World is unusual, and I’d classify it as speculative fiction with a fantasy/horror slant. The main character, Anthony, discovers he has the power to change the world through sheer force of will, and after a rough early life determines to use it for his betterment, and ultimately, with horrific consequences for his new life and family. It kind of brought to mind in some parts “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs, but there were twists I didn’t expect, and this was much more graphic at the end, more modern in its appeal as horror. This one will keep you up late at night. Brrrr!
Chapter 5, Sexually Transmitted Intelligence, is a first contact story involving humanity’s traveling to an alien star system, encountering its resident civilization, and the tragic consequences of misguided ambition by a young researcher trying to make a name for himself. He does, but not in the way he’d have liked when he discovers an species-wide pandemic and then discovers what he thinks is a cure. I really liked this one: The aliens are kind of cute…the Yozer — intelligent beaver-like creatures — and their biology is well thought-out. This is a good cautionary tale and story of redemption when the hero makes amends for his error in his here-and-now on this faraway world.
Everything Is So Different Now
A collection of short fiction
By S. A. Barton
Copyright 2012 S. A. Barton
Find other stories by S.A. Barton on his Smashwords profile.
See more from S. A. Barton on his blog at http://sabarton.blog.com
On Twitter at http://twitter.com/tao23
And on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/S-A-Barton/312607662122218