A diverse collection of fantasy short stories with settings that range from prehistoric to postapocalyptic.
Sloyer’s eight stories span the ages: “Glimpse” tracks one prehistoric man’s struggle to survive against natural elements and wildlife, and “Logo,” a nearly 200-page novella about fertility control and political corruption, outlines a postapocalyptic, totalitarian U.S. government. Other scenarios imagine a meeting between Bach and Chopin, a child who wastes his entire life spellbound by the accidental discovery of an early artifact (a CD-ROM), and children who employ paranormal talents to out-survive their parents. “Evolution” pictures an uncontrolled government experiment of creating “combots,” robots designed for combat. These ambitious narratives skew toward social commentary. In “Logo,” for example, a recognizable bounty hunter enforces a national fertility law by murdering anyone, including children, who dares to ignore the law (“the unsponsored”). The hunts are broadcast on television in an edited version of reality TV—a commercial vehicle used by the political and business elite to perpetuate the status quo. Sloyer uses several familiar storylines—the rogue government agent, double-crossing politicians, rebelling robots and the brilliant female scientist—for momentum. Most stories are fast-paced reads that tend to gloss over character development or subplots. At times, Sloyer’s scenes of brutality can jar the reader. For instance, in “And the Elephants Cried,” “Logo,” “Evolution” and “The Consibaiglor,” several deaths happens without much forewarning or explanation. This violence heightens tension but at the expense of emotional depth. Each story has its own lexicon, an imaginative flourish that occasionally compromises clarity.
An enthusiastic fantasy that emphasizes action but sacrifices nuanced character development.