Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online April 2018

Continuing the newer tradition of coming out with fairly thematically linked issues, Flash Fiction Online presents an April full of fools. Or maybe fooling. Also aliens. Yup, all three stories feature alien beings, and in most of them there’s also a vein of something...well, of someone pulling one over on someone else. Maybe it’s an actress tricking an alien monster to spare Earth, or a group of alien agents trying to set up first contact on the sly, or even the own paranoid post-drunken-weekend-in-Vegas thoughts of a man who might have just married an extraterrestrial. In any case, the stories are largely bright and fun, even when they brush against planet eating and possible invasion. So without further delay, to the reviews!

Art by Dario Bijelac

“Canada Girl vs. The Thing Inside Pluto” by Lina Rather (1000 words)

No Spoilers: Aimee is a middle aged actress who makes her money on a convention circuit trying to squeeze out a living from her days playing television’s Canada Girl. It’s...not going too well, and when a giant alien (who has eaten two planets in the solar system already) shows up demanding to best Canada Girl in single combat, it seems like things have finally gone to complete shit. Except that the Thing Inside Pluto isn’t quite what everyone thought it was. The voice of Aimee is sharp and a bit bitter, honed by the inequalities in the business and having to contend with being called only when the literal planet is in danger. There’s a great back and forth between her and the Thing, and the story twists and turns nicely, building up the stakes and then finding a fitting and funny solution to the problem. It’s fun, it’s fresh, and it embraces that Aimee is a rather messy character who isn’t doing this for the love of country and maple syrup.
Keywords: Acting, Invasion, Nostalgia, Television, Mediation, Fandom
Review: Here we find the rather fun trope of a powerful being showing up to Earth to demand to speak with a fictional character. The essence of the premise being that this intergalactic threat is basically a kinda annoying fan. And yet in that Aimee is extremely ready to deal with the situation, having spent so much of her life dealing with fans. She might have a complicated relationship with her stardom, but it’s something she’s good at. When the Thing shows up and she’s put up in many ways as a sacrifice in hopes that somehow she’ll stop it from eating everything, she relies on her acting background and her ability to (mostly) keep her calm. But she also knows opportunity when it sits down in front of her, and I love how she gets to use this moment to try to pull out of this system that has largely let her down, not really given her any recent work, something that she can use to do what she loves. And maybe that’s why I like her as a character, because for all she’s bitter and a bit crass, she doesn’t hate her fans, doesn’t hate the Thing. She doesn’t think people are stupid for liking Canada Girl. She just wants to work, to continue on after this large role she had, and it’s a great moment when she can seek to get back to that. It’s a fun and rather bouncy read and a wonderful way to kick off the issue!

“The Moon on a Breakfast Plate” by M.E. Owen (997 words)

No Spoilers: A person holds a child outside at night, wondering what to do about the child’s request to have the moon on her plate at breakfast. The story revolves around how easily (or with how much difficulty) people accept the strange and wondrous. The piece centers a person who is trying to prepare a man for a great event. And yet who finds in the man’s daughter perhaps a more promising avenue. Because there is something about children that allows them to accept what they are seeing, which makes them especially good at adapting and learning. And the piece is one that plays with darkness and the unknown, with the nature of the narrator and their mission. It’s possible I feel to read something rather ominous into what’s going on, but also to see something bright and hopeful.
Keywords: The Moon, Magic, First Contact, Aliens, Infiltration
Review: I love how the story is framed as an adult having a conversation with a child, and yet it’s the adult who learns a lesson, who comes away with a better understanding of the situation. Because they can see in this child an answer to something that been plaguing them, a fear that things will come apart to disastrous effect if humanity can’t be made ready to meet with member of an alien people. A people who are already on Earth, already trying to pave the way with a select group of adults. But who might have to change their plans because they’ve just realized how easily children accept what they experience, what they see. Adults are slower, more resistant to things that don’t make sense, that break the rules. But children re generally able to roll with things. For them, the important thing is not “this thing that is happening is impossible” but rather “how is that happening?” Meaning they skip the resistance part of things, embracing mysteries and the strange in order to puzzle them out. Which is a great asset when it comes to establishing a relationship with a people with technology that might be considered impossible. And who want to establish peace and trade and opportunity without the resistance, without the fear and denial. And there’s just a hint that maybe there’s a darkness there that the narrator isn’t going into, that things aren’t all wonder and joy, but at the same time it emphasizes that this is important, and it’s important to do right. A great read!

“Things I Realized on Finding an Alien in the Passenger Seat of My Car” by Aaron DaMommio (878 words)

No Spoilers: A man is driving back from an ill-conceived trip to Las Vegas where he might have gotten married to a strange alien who is now in the passenger seat of his car. Also he’s late for a job interview. The story is framed as a number of thoughts given in lists, the narrator’s mind not exactly it’s sharpest given the rescent stress, which I think gives the piece a more manic feel, where the narrator seems to be barely keeping his cool (before losing it entirely). There are few things I hesitate about in the piece that lean a bit too heavily for me into the “how do I have sex with this alien” territory, which I’m sure are just supposed to be funny but left a bit of a bad taste for me. Overall, the piece is humorous and fun, taking the idea of getting drunk-married in Las Vegas to a rather far extreme.
Keywords: Aliens, Las Vegas, Hangover, Driving, Confused
Review: Okay, I do think it’s rather funny that this guy thinks that he’s married an alien but really just bought a pet that requires a control ring to interact with. As I said above, I wasn’t so huge a fan on the parts that focused on the guy thinking about fucking said alien (as in “how is that possible because body parts?”), because 1. people fuck in all sorts of ways and 2. it pushes the idea that anything outside of a “standard” body is alien/too weird/etc. Though perhaps I am just a bit sensitive to these sorts of things, ymmv. Overall, I think the story does a good job of setting up the joke and the ridiculous nature of the situation. Everything sort of happens all at once, this guy’s world fracturing until it comes apart on the interstate in a wash of crustaceans and regrets. It’s got a certain charm to it, and once the story gets around the initial eww of things it’s easy enough to laugh along with. It does do a nice job of showing just how awful this guy assumes things went when he got really drunk, and that it ends up being something so much more innocent and funny than it could have been (an actual accidental marriage story would have trod into some major issues associated with that trope) does put some points in its favor. For me, I had a hard time getting over some lines, but if this sounds like your thing then I do think you’ll find a fun story to enjoy. In any event, I’d recommend checking it out for yourself to see how it strikes you.


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