Once upon a time there was a baby alien…
There are only so many times you can repeat fairy tales. With ten kids, my mother hit that limit early on. So she left the older kids on bedtime happily-ever-after detail, and went back to science fiction and murder mysteries. Thanks to her, I read science fiction classics at an early age and learned to appreciate that sometimes the robot wins, the hero dies, and “The End” is short for “The End of Everything”. I particularly loved the iconic short stories with their humor and twists such as Asimov’s “The Last Question” or Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God”. As time went on, their heirs added breadth to that tradition as Douglas Adams told us in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything is 42, while Good Omens just suggested that there really isn’t that big a difference between the good guys and the bad guys.
In my post on speculative fiction [What makes it scifi?] I discussed science fiction as a genre and listed some of the common tropes. I was delighted to find so many examples of these in Nicholas Rossis’ new anthology, Honest Fibs. His tales carry on the tradition of science fiction short stories with a twist and a sharp edge of dark humor. In other words, they are the perfect bedtime story for grownups.
Honest Fibs by Nicholas C. Rossis
A mermaid turns out to be the perfect bait. A young man in the Badlands discovers the price of business. And a man desperate to escape his life finds out he’s not the only one.
These are just a few of the stories in Honest Fibs, a collection of speculative and science fiction short stories that explore our perception of the world around us. Is there more to the world than we can see? How far can we trust our senses? And in a digital society, can any of us tell what’s real?
Nicholas Rossis is a master of the craft… I found myself looking forward to coming home so I could dig into the next story. Each story pulls you into its unique little universe and takes you on a ride where the tracks are hidden, and you can’t see the corners up ahead. —Nat Russo
Book Title: Honest Fibs (Short SSF Stories Book 3)
Author: Nicholas C. Rossis
Genre: Science Fiction (short story collection)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Length: 136 pages
Release Date: 3 April, 2016
Contact and Buy Links:
In a 1953 article Isaac Asimov wrote for Modern Science Fiction, he claimed there were essentially three types of science fiction—gadget (focus is on the science itself), adventure (the science is just a dramatic deus ex machina), and social science fiction (how the science element affects people’s daily lives).
For science fiction lovers and anyone who just likes a good little story—well-told, and preferably with a twist at the end—Nicholas Rossis’ new collection is a gourmet collection that treats the reader to examples from all three of Asimov’s categories. The first tale is pure adventure. The time-travel “science” isn’t even attempted, while the story premise invokes Godwin’s Law of Time Travel (As the amount of time-traveling you do increases, the probability of Hitler winning World War II approaches one.) What happens when you have the technology to kill Hitler, but you aren’t allowed to change history? I love Rossis’ answer!
The other stories are just as much fun. Little Star Corvette is an unabashed gadget tale—Smokey and the Bandit meets Star Wars. You can practically hear Little Deuce Coupe playing in the background. Twinsies is on the line between social and gadget, with its black market clones each sure they are the “real” original, and acting accordingly.
There are a couple of social tales as well. Best Halloween Ever is just plain fun. I particularly loved the description of a little girl in a homemade ghost costume—“She looked like a pointy tampon.” And The Price of Business points out that even in post-apocalyptic dystopia, your basic business principles apply.
But the thing that sets this little collection apart is the narration. In a tradition that reaches back to Giambattista Basile’s Tale of Tales (1634)—with its framing story of cursed princess, treacherous servant, and bespelled prince as the excuse for each storyteller to add her tale—each of the stories in Honest Fibs is fitted into the framing tale involving two guys fishing and telling each other stories to pass the time. But those story intervals soon take on a story of their own that combines all three gadget, adventure, and social elements. The end is the biggest, funniest, yet somehow horrifying twist of all. And of course, it unrolls with the unspoken punchline for “the one that got away” echoing in our ears.
Honest Fibs is a breezy, well-written, and completely entertaining little book. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it five stars and to recommend it to anyone who enjoys humor, stories within stories, and endings with a twist.
***Another fishing tall tale…