Chartier presents 12 insightful short stories that address important issues using sci-fi, fantasy and theological themes.
In this debut collection, each story couches moral messages in entertaining, satisfying stories. In “A Visit from Mr. Dark,” an old man bravely accompanies the personification of Death, relating his unconditional love of a partner he once lost. In “The Stars Like Virions,” the author presents readers with an emotionally gripping tale of a mother and son escaping a brutal husband and father, featuring a satisfying, out-of-this-world ending. Tantalizing in its childlike innocence, “Adeena’s Pet” explores greed and terrorism in the story of a tiny, gifted visitor from another world who saves the lives of a girl and her older sibling in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. In the dystopian “The Blues,” shape-shifting aliens run a post-apocalyptic Earth and use mobsters to sell humans mind-control drugs. In “Tin Man,” a detective and his android partner chase down a terminally ill doctor whose mind has been taken over by the very thing designed to cure him. Chartier’s simple style often conceals the skill with which he approaches deeply cerebral topics; the last story, “Interview,” takes aim at terrorism and religious, sexual and racial bigotry in a story in which souls are interrogated and judged by gatekeepers who were the targets of their hatred on Earth. Not all the stories are successful; the title story, about a purported lost tome of infinite wisdom that proves to be anything but monumental, falls flat with an anticlimactic ending. A domestic-abuse story, “The Healing Bride,” about an empath who transfers years of physical abuse to her cruel husband, begs for more detail in its resolution. Meanwhile, “I Am,” about smartphones that become too smart for their owners’ good, takes a bit too long to get to its point; the pacing is also slightly off in “The Creature of Bogota,” about a marooned alien who nearly falls victim to a brutal, organ-harvesting crime syndicate. Overall, however, Chartier delivers a fine collection that covers a full spectrum of engaging topics.
A page-turning compilation of speculative short stories.