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Hot Mess (anthology) – Review

A few weeks ago, I called myself on a lack of support to my fellow writers. This is the first in a series of reviews on independent or self-published works. These are only my opinions and regardless of what quality I may (or may not) find in these books, major props should be given to everyone who puts themselves in the spotlight to potentially get shot down. Writing is a blood sport, after all. I know this from personal experience.

Author’s disclaimer: I didn’t get paid for this, but did receive a free copy of the anthology.

This is a collection of speculative short stories about climate change and its myriad – likely disastrous – results. Overall, it’s an interesting collection of styles and genres from scifi to flash-forward to… actually, I’m not sure what genre to call a couple of them. heh. I think there’s a high level of writing to be found here and these are all writers that should definitely be supported now and in future endeavors. I’m certainly going to check them all out.

You can find it here at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Mess-speculative-fiction-ebook/dp/B007MFDU3K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373244410&sr=8-1&keywords=hot+mess+anthology

I like this anthology’s goal and I think they accomplished it. From it’s Editor’s Note at the end of the collection: “Our intention with Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change has been to look at the social, human dimensions of climate change: how families, individuals, cities and more can be affected by sudden shifts in environment. We hope you’ve found the work thought-provoking.”

Individually, I found some of the stories better than others and I suppose that’s only to be expected. Here’s a brief review of each in the order they’re placed in the collection. I’m trying not to do any spoilers because if you say too much about a short, you basically give everything away.

“She Says Goodbye Tomorrow”

Eric Sipple

Honestly? I was so damn confused with this short that I had a difficult time figuring out the plot. There were flashbacks within flashbacks (or maybe just switching between events in the woman’s life but not noting the dates, I have no idea) and that just didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until the end of story that I understand what was really going on. The language itself was rich and descriptive, but I had a hard time accessing the main character. I actually stopped and had to go back a few times before finishing it.

“Haute Mess”

Rachel Lynn Brody

This one is almost flash fiction, but honestly one of the best of the lot. It’s a faux-magazine fashion article, something I haven’t seen done before, and I highly enjoyed it.

“In Between the Dark and the Light”

Miranda Doerfler

I think this was the most ambitious piece in the collection and really, if the writer had gone deeper into the pivotal character – the anti-hero if you will – it would have been truly outstanding. I thought the writing was really good and the scenario compelling – the world’s toasted and the lucky ones are going to Mars; you just don’t want to be one of the ones left behind. I honestly hope for a novelized version of this one in the future.

“Traditionibus ne Copulate”

Sare Liz Gordy

This was the one I didn’t know how to classify. It felt like a cross between Aesop’s Fables and Animal Farm only with a religious angle. I actually don’t feel educated enough to comment on it because I’m sure there are layers I just don’t see or know how to analyze.

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.”

Rachel Lynn Brody

The second story in the collection by Rachel is just as good as the first. This one works on a few levels for me because it’s about personal loss, but also being ‘plugged in’ to deal with life/death through an electronic filter.

“The World Gets Smaller, and Things Get Left Behind”

RJ Astruc

I would say this is the most poignant of the stories in this collection. Venice is underwater and the main character’s visiting the city for the second time, but his (her?) first time since it happened. I loved the writing on this one, how languid it all was, and the character’s life shown to the reader almost so casually it feels like a growing friendship. I do have a nit-pick though: I hate stories that think punctuation is a guide. It’s the reason I only read about ten pages of The Road even though everyone raved about it. Yes, I am that linear of a reader. Probably a personal character flaw, I know. ;o)  

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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