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The Kickstarter is almost over, but you still have a couple days, and here’s the final reason you should support us if I somehow haven’t convinced you yet with the other 23 amazeballs stories. How about this for a slice of fried gold: Skinwalker, Fast Talker by Darcie Little Badger.

There are so many ways in which I love this story, because it’s got so many layers to it. Mel, an Apache woman who is a “journalist” for a National Enquirer-style rag called Bimonthly Weird Online gets shown a video of a guy who just scammed her nephew out of a bunch of money and may or may not be Coyote himself. So she does what any journalist would do: she investigates.

On one level, it’s funny as all hell–Coyote dresses like a PUA and drenches himself in Axe body spray. And I love a good human versus trickster story, cunning versus cunning. On a deeper level, it touches on the struggle to maintain culture and memory in a world where Mel’s nephew is more likely to learn about “skinwalkers” via garbled Hollywood film efforts than from people in the know. It’s about the problems Mel and her nephew face in a society that doesn’t always treat them kindly because of who they are.

This is a fun, clever story with a big heart hidden just under the gross pelt quilt and the Axe body spray. I loved it from the first line, and I think you’re going to love it too.

Train is leaving the station, guys! Support the Kickstarter, get the book cheaper and earlier than those who miss the deadline.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So no shit, there we are, a couple hundred bucks from the first stretch goal for the Kickstarter! WOOHOO, EVERYONE! Go go go, let’s get illustrations in this baby and then a pay raise for the writers.

There are only two stories left in the table of contents, so which one will RNGesus pick today? It’s Blush Response by E. Catherine Tobler.

I was surprised and incredibly honored to see a story from Elise land in my slush pile. I’ve read her short stories for years, and if you’re not familiar with her work–well, what’s wrong with you? Go work your way through her bibliography, you won’t be sorry. She writes absolutely beautiful prose, words that are rich and alive and just a bit alien. She’s got a way of looking at things, of writing stories that provides them such depth, and I’m unabashedly envious of her skill.

And she did not deviate from that record in the slightest with Blush Response. It’s a black and white, roaring 20s gangster movie of a story. Quite literally black and white, a world of grayscale, in which color is a foreign mark left by the hands of “Shine Girls,” used as a torture and a warning. Our pin curl and suit-sporting main gangster Lola has gotten her hands on one such Shine Girl, named Wonderly, by the simple mechanism of having kidnapped her from the control of another gang. Lola? Is not a nice person.

Wonderly and Lola are fascinating characters with a dynamic I might have mentally written some fanfiction about. This is another of those stories where I hope, hope, hope there’s more, because Elise has given us a fascinating world driven by deep currents of emotional struggle.

And the main character is a female gangster named Lola. I AM ONLY HUMAN, PEOPLE.

All this begins with Lola’s “No shit, there I was…” Support the Kickstarter and you get this and 23 other awesome stories. Time’s running out, go!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Ready for one of the last three pieces from the table of contents for my amazeballs anthology?

It’s time for another slush jackalope fave, this one titled Dropped In, by Jo Robson. As story opening lines for the anthology go, this is my favorite second only to the necromantic weaselsNo shit, there I was, hip deep in watermelon and about to get eaten by the dog.

Well come on, if you’re going to start out like that, I have to keep reading.

Dropped In is definitely to the lighter side of the No Shit spectrum. It’s the story of a little green robotic PDA (PaD technically, in the story’s terms) named BeBop. He might seem like an innocent electronic device with no will of his own, but he’s got a snarky personality and an extremely mischievous sense of humor that’s guaranteed to get him in trouble and does. When one of his pranks backfires, he has to figure out how to fix his unwitting mistake or risk being given to his owner’s nose-picking, young nephew.

This story is cute. BeBop is a  perfect snarky narrator who isn’t allowed by his programming to say even half of what he thinks out loud. (And don’t we all know how that feels.) The decision he ultimately faces is true to life in its own way as well. It’s one tiny green robot against a large and hostile world.

Sound fun? You’re still got a week to get in on the Kickstarter and make sure you get your book in whatever format pleases you best!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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We’re down to the last four stories in the No Shit table of contents! If you haven’t supported the Kickstarter yet, what are you waiting for? I guarantee, these four are just as awesome in their own way as the previous twenty.

Today’s story is First of the North by Andrew Barton. It’s probably the most brutally realistic story about superheroes that I’ve ever read. When the jackalopes and I were figuring out the table of contents, there was some disagreement on if First of the North is our bleakest story, or The Pursuit of Happiness. To be honest, I’m still not certain which of them wins. They’re both the sort of stories that hurt you in absolutely necessary ways.

First of the North imagines an economically desolate Vancouver and a superhero named Alpha Borealis who has lost her day job to the inevitable march of automation. To anyone who has ever been laid off, made redundant, or been victim of a force reduction–so many names for the same adult horror–this is a story that hits close to home. It certainly sucker punched one of my jackalopes, and me as well. As if that’s not difficult enough, First of the North posits a logical extension to the current poor treatment of the blameless victims of the economy and asks what good a superhero is against odds like that.

Andrew tends to write very stark stories, and it’s something I respect about him. He doesn’t waste words and he keeps everything feeling intensely real. It’s a style that serves this story well and makes it hurt.

It’s a good story, and well worth reading. And well worth supporting!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Time for another offering from the No Shit table of contents! Today it’s Salted Tongues and Salted Lashes by Rachael K. Jones.

Not going to lie, I was excited as hell to see a story from Rachael in my slush pile, and she did not disappoint. Salted Tongues and Salted Lashes has one of the more playful interpretations of the opening line out of all the stories. And the concept that provides the speculative motor for the story is fun and quirky: the main character, Leah, speaks Doom on people. Curse words are literally curses, Dooms waiting to be unleashed by Leah’s power. It’s her job, in fact, to speak Dooms on unwitting victims who have pissed off someone enough that they’re willing to pay Leah’s employer for the service.

Like I said. The concept is fun and quirky and a few degrees off the world as we understand it. But this being from Rachael K. Jones, with the concept comes an almighty emotional sucker punch. It’s a story about the grinding toll anger and misery and hopelessness take on a person. But it’s also about the toll that giving and pushing back against the darkness, of being the person who always has their shit together can take as well. It’s a story that hit me incredibly hard when I read it and I knew I needed it in my anthology. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

We’re so close to our funding goal! So close! Support the Kickstarter and make sure you get this and the other stories. Push us across the finish line!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Today from the No Shit ToC, I bring you a favorite of one of my slush readers: Leaving Bordeaux by Lou J. Berger.

On its face, Leaving Bordeaux has a similar feel to The Pursuit of Happiness: gritty, military-ish scifi. This one’s just got some added time travel in it, and the aliens are both less and more disturbing, depending on how you think about it. It rolls along, with battles, man pain, people smoking in silence, just like you’d expect.

And then you get to one sentence that you could probably miss if you were reading too fast. When I hit it, I burst out laughing and literally shouted: “Lou, you son of a bitch!”

This is the problem with this story. I love it, but if I tell you any more detail about why I love it, that’ll ruin the fun. I may have already said too much. Lou did an incredible job putting this story together and building it in just the right way. He made it just as long as it needs to be to make the denouement work well. And beyond that, the concepts he’s come up with for this world are fun.

But the punchline. The goddamn punchline. Hats off to you Lou. You got me fair and square.

Want to see what I’m trying so hard not to spoil? Support the kickstarter, and you get the anthology for as little as $5!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Ready for your daily dose of awesomeness from the No Shit ToC? It’s the generally titled Really, I’m Like St. Francis That Way, What With Holding Bird­Like Creatures And All by Adrian Simmons.

Really, I’m Like St. Francis That Way… is the most traditional No Shit, There I Was story in the entire anthology. It’s about an innocent guy who’s just trying to do the right thing, saving an alien creature from certain death from certain death in a hostile environment. And like anyone just trying to do something right, it all goes wrong at every turn.

I really don’t want to spoil the amusing series of events that this story encompasses, but what did it for me is the last line, the most traditional thing about a No Shit story. All this crazy stuff happened, and that is the reason why something almost completely unrelated occurs. You can easily imagine listening to this entire story of compounding mistakes while drinking a beer and nodding sympathetically. Adrian nailed the format and involved cute, fuzzy, alien creatures.

I’m a sucker for cute, fuzzy, alien creatures.

Think that sounds fun? Kickstarter is right here, and you can get 23 more very different stories for as little as $5!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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As of this moment, we have two weeks left on the Kickstarter, with 279 backers and $1,248 left to go. We’re chugging right along. Just keep spreading the word around about the awesomeness from the ToC, and let’s make this book happen.

Speaking of the ToC, today’s offering is The Former Minion’s Support Group by Alanna McFall. This is a story that posits a universe where campy comic book supervillains with puntastic (think: old school Adam West Batman-style) evil plans are real, and so are the poor schlubs they’ve often abducted and forced to help them with their dastardly plots: the minions.

What makes this story stand out is that within the fun concept and nominally light-hearted villainy, there’s a real question about what this would do to actual human beings who have to deal with being minions. How badly would it mess someone up to be under constant threat of death by their overlord while attempting to train mind-controlled sharks how to sing a chorus of madness?

And that’s where the support group comes in. Underneath a slightly ridiculous veneer, there’s a respectful examination of trauma and coping mechanisms and recovery that we found remarkable.

This and the other stories on the No Shit ToC can be yours if you support the Kickstarter. Go, go, go!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Everyone likes Satan and dinosaurs, right?

Today from the No Shit ToC, I bring to you: The Devil’s Apprentice by Premee Mohamed.

This is another of those stories that crawled into my brain and left me feeling incredibly fucked up. It refused to let me go, and I had to put it in the ToC because, as a caring person, I need to share that sensation.

The Devil’s Apprentice is about a young man who becomes the Devil’s apprentice because how the hell else are you going to get a job in the current economy? And The Omen-style, he gets a familiar. Only very unlike The Omen, he doesn’t get a rottweiler: he gets a brightly-colored, tiny, carnivorous dinosaur. A tiny, carnivorous dinosaur who would like to eat him. Because the Devil is a giant asshole.

Premee’s writing is left me feeling so disoriented as I read this story; the description of Hell as something banally horrifying and incredibly surreal. Nothing works quite the way you expect it to. Nothing looks quite the way it should. It’s incredibly desolate and empty and too full and almost claustrophobic at the same time. Nothing in this story went as I expected it to, and it left an impression on me that I could not shake for weeks.

This story is strange and red with blood, not quite the opposite of yesterday’s story, but on another axis entirely. I can’t wait to share this one with you, so you should support the Kickstarter and make that happen! We’re in the home stretch, just $1300 left!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Sorry, I couldn’t fit the full title of the next No Shit story in the title field. That’s because the full deal is: How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart’s True Love. 

When this story, by Matt Dovey and Stewart C. Baker, landed in the No Shit slush pile, it caused quite a stir, from the title alone. The jackalopes circled it warily, poking at it with their flint-tipped spears and squeaking amongst themselves. Could a story possibly live up to a title like that? Should it? We were all a little afraid to look at it, lest the illusion be shattered and our lives plunged into despair.

Then I got a message from one of the readers: you have to read this, it REALLY lives up to the title. I opened the file. Read the first line.

No shit, there I was, knee-deep in necromantic weasels in the lair of the mad wizard-king, when Korgar and Elutriel both decided it was time to win my affections once and for all.

I said to myself, “Okay, there is no fucking way they are going to stick the landing after a first line like that.”

Matt and Stewart stuck the landing.

There are so many reasons I love this story, which is like a D&D adventure gone horribly, wonderfully, hilariously wrong in a world that is utterly ridiculous and pretends it doesn’t notice how ridiculous it is whilst simultaneously winking at the reader. I’m still not over the legendary sword of the title, which is named “Hrrnngnngrrrndr, the Sword of a Hundred Thousand Agonies.” This story is non-stop, wall-to-wall gems like that.

I don’t know what kind of aberrant brain chemistry the writers might have been experiencing when they came up with all of this, but I devoutly pray that it happens again, and soon, because I need more incredibly fun, smart stories like this one in my life.

You want to read this story, so you should definitely support the kickstarter.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Welcome to a very special I got up at 0515 in the morning for a flight that has now been delayed until 0945 edition of my No Shit ToC blogging! My apologies in advance to both reader and the writer whose story I’m about to talk about, because I’m not sure how coherent I actually am right now.

Today’s story is The Pursuit of Happiness by William RD Wood. I mentioned before that we tended to classify our slush pile on scales between two stories. The Pursuit of Happiness has the (dubious?) honor of fighting to pin the “bleak” side of the tonal scale. (There’s another story it traded off with, which I’ll talk about on another day, and I’m still not sure which of them wins. Depends on what sort of existential despair I’m feeling at the time.)

The Pursuit of Happiness is a gritty, (quasi)military SF-with-more-than-a-dash-of-horror story that involves an alien invasion and a small squad of mercenaries just trying to get the hell out of Dodge. Spoiler, humanity isn’t exactly acing this encounter. But what made it stand out to me the most are the characters that William builds in the pages. I loved the dialog, the banter, the interactions, because it said so much about each of them and rendered lengthier exposition unnecessary. It’s a fun read with a deliberate pace. If there’s a military SF equivalent to hardboiled, William nails it.

And the aliens? Incredibly creepy.

And–well, if you want to know more, you’ll just have to support the Kickstarter and read the story. I’ve got a plane to board now. Hopefully. Wish me luck.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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The No Shit ToC keeps on rolling, rolling, today with a really cool short story by Frances RowatThou Unnecessary Letter.

There are several writers who got a little creative with the required opening line for the anthology, but Frances took it and ran off on the orthogonal. When I started reading the story, I had to wrench my brain around and turn my head sideways to understand what was happening. And then I got it, and it was like a dawning light.

The way one of the slush jackalopes described Thou Unnecessary Letter is: “Magical alphabet noir.” That’s about the most accurate way I could think to describe it, myself. It’s a story that you imagine in black and white as you read, in which everyone is smoking (even if they’re not) and unironically wearing classic hats.

I’m at a loss to describe more about this story because I love it, and so much of that love comes from discovering how Frances played with the idea, with the opening line, and telling you more about it would just ruin the delight of unfolding all the complexity that she somehow managed to hide in 2000 words. Every time I read it over, I find something new that makes me say think oh.

This is a story I’m actively jealous I didn’t write. (And I don’t think I could have.)

So if you want to know what I’m babbling about, you’re just going to have to support the Kickstarter and make sure all your friends do too, so you can read it.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Look at us, we passed 250 supporters! WOOOOOO!!!! 65% of the way toward our funding goal, and I’m not even halfway done telling you how awesome all of these stories are.

Today’s tale from the ToC is Incursion by RK Duncan, lovely Lovecraftian offering that stuck with those of us at No Shit Central. We all loved this story and refused to let it go.

We got a lot of stories in the No Shit Slushpile that followed the format of a person recounting past events to a listener, following the required line of course. The inherent weakness of stories like that is when it comes to maintaining the stakes, the tension. For example, you know the narrator didn’t get killed by the scary thing they faced, because they’re telling you the story.

Well, Robin put a twist on the format and then knocked it out of the park. The guy with the no shit story is the witness to an otherworldly incursion being interviewed after the fact, and it grips your attention. What happened? How does it work in with what else is going on? What does the interviewer want? The tension remains because the point of the story isn’t even necessarily what happened, but where it’s all going to lead.

I was personally a sucker for the atmosphere of the story, as a dedicated player of Arkham Horror. It has that same sort of feeling, rendered in prose, where it’s a mystery to be solved, a creepy adventure, and you already know that victory is not going to be without its very high price.

Support the Kickstarter, and have your Elder Sign handy.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Ever wonder how much of a pain in the ass it would be, to be the daughter of a goddess? One of many, many daughters of a goddess? This next story, The Goddess Whole by Heather Morris, has an answer for you.

There’s a lot that I love in this story. It’s got a compelling fantasy setting, one that feels very complete despite its short length. You can just feel how much there is under the surface, little details coming out and enriching the world without distracting from the narrative. And it starts out like a more traditional no shit, there I was story that starts the plot off, with our hero Caer listening in and jumpstarting her investigation into strange, godly goings-on from there.

I also like it because it’s a fantasy story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Caer is exceptionally down-to-earth as a character, and being the walking, talking agent of the Goddess isn’t a trip in the park for her. There’s a certain dark humor to her situation and how she deals with it that really tripped off my amusement. When you’re one among many chosen ones and have to deal with the divine on a daily basis–a divine entity that is distracted, inattentive, and never gives you a good reason for what She wants–it must get wearing after a while. There’s also a real gritty earthiness to all of the characters that makes them very real and their situations, no matter how otherworldly in origin, very immediate.

It’s a fun story with an ending that makes me want to fistbump Caer. I think you’ll like it too, so you should support the Kickstarter and make sure you get a copy of the anthology!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Today’s treat from the No Shit Table of Contents is James Beamon‘s Episodes From the Abner-Mortimer Karmic War.

This story, y’all. This story. If Uranus Calling is the silliest story in the anthology, Episodes ties for the funniest. If you watched my video on the kickstarter, I mentioned we have some stories that are laugh out loud funny, and this is one of them. To be technical, this story made me laugh so loudly that it scared my cats and incapacitated me for several minutes.

Episodes From the Abner-Mortimer Karmic War is about two guys–Abner and Mortimer, as you might have guessed from the title–who really, really hate each other. With the seething, fiery passion of a thousand suns. And then some. And they are locked in an endless cycle of murder and revenge that neither of them are all that inclined to stop.

Now, murder and revenge might not sound that hilarious at first blush, but what makes this story is the karmic bit of it. Every time one of them dies, via revenge killing or natural causes, he is reborn… but not necessarily as a human. And it doesn’t matter what body he’s in: at some point he wakes up to the fact that his nemesis is somewhere in the world, and goes looking for him. Which ends up pitting man against snail, say, or seal against man. And the cycle repeats.

I’m not doing it justice. Because there is no way to accurately describe how hilarious James makes this concept without just transcribing the story for you. Instead, you should support the Kickstarter so you can read it for yourself. Just make sure you’re in an appropriate setting for loud guffaws, and not in the library, the quiet coach, or a church. I don’t want to be responsible for even the tiniest smudge on your karma, or any future encounters with vengeful snails.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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There’s a lot of fun to traditional ghost stories, the kind you could imagine telling around a campfire while someone is torturing a bag of marshmallows by running them through with pointy sticks. (Optional Colorado addition: passing around the local microbrew.) The next offering from the No Shit ToC puts me in mind of just that: Rudy’s Revenge by Anne M. Gibson.

The story expands on the origin of a haunted pinball machine, and involves a circus side show, the strong man, the witch doctor, and a total asshole of a clown. (Clowns automatically make everything creepier.) What I liked about the story was how atmospheric it is. There’s a solid sense of environment, of the characters, and with a real economy of words that honestly makes me jealous as a writer. You can practically smell the popcorn and cotton candy mixed in with a humid night at a fairground.

Even better, the pinball machine in question actually does exist. Well, as in that pinball machine design exists. I can’t really say one way or another if it’s actually haunted. The Williams Funhouse pinball machine is a real thing with a real animatronic talking face named Rudy, and he’s real creepy if you ask me. I found this cool video covering all the features and modes of the pinball machine.

Sound like spooky fun? (It is.) One more reason to support the No Shit kickstarter and get the anthology!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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We’re back to the sillier and much more literal side of the No Sh!t Table of Contents: I’m Not Taking This Phantom Crap Anymore by David Jón Fuller. In this case, the problem is literally no shit–crap is mysteriously disappearing from the outhouses of a bunch of quaint little lakeside cabins. And it’s up to the intrepid Kristoff with his husband Dale in tow to solve the mystery before all of the missing crap mysteriously reappears at the worst possible moment and in the worst possible place. (As if there’s a good place for several tons of human feces to suddenly pop into existence.)

This story is fun, a sort of Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Crap if Nancy was actually a gay Canadian man who investigates otherworldly mysteries using psychic powers activated by knitting.

Yes, you did read that correctly. Kristoff’s appetite for yarn cannot be denied. His poor husband seems resigned to having his sweaters sacrificially unraveled now and then.

The otherworldly forces behind the crap wandering off are something I found personally amusing for a myriad of reasons, but I don’t want to give them away. You’ll just have to support the Kickstarter and read the story yourself. I finished this story hoping that there are more adventures of Kristoff (he does mention a werewolf problem, maybe David will tell us more about that some day, hint hint David) since he would make a wonderful hero to follow while curled up under a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate close to hand.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So what do you call it when aliens are trying to change Earth to be more hospitable to them? Certainly not terraforming.

Today’s offering from the table of contents of the No Shit, There I Was anthology is If You’re Hearing This, I’m Already Dead by Sunil Patel. This story stands out for a lot of reasons; first off, it’s a first person, stream of consciousness monolog, a step apart from even the couple of more traditional No Shit stories that made it into the anthology.

I love what Sunil did with this story, because it’s got many trappings that could be read as outwardly silly–the invading aliens are named Graxians, you can kill them with peppermint oil–and leaves no question how deadly serious the stakes and circumstances are for the story’s hero. There’s a driving sense of urgency through this story that never lessens. You’re on the edge of your seat the whole time, listening to Tamika trying to figure out what’s happening, what she’s going to do, what she even can do about the desperate situation on Earth. It’s not an easy thing, to maintain this level of tension in a story like this, when you’re basically having a character sit in one place and unfold the past for the reader, but Sunil does it perfectly. You never know what Tamika’s going to say next.

And Tamika herself is a wonderful character–a black girl who has brilliant wit, wisdom, and a razor-sharp mind on her side, but she’s also just one girl against an alien invasion. And her determination will leave you wanting to cheer and break your heart at the same time.

Shut up, I’m not tearing up, you’re tearing up.

If you support No Shit, There I Was on Kickstarter, you’ll get to meet Tamika, the bravest girl on Earth. She’s well worth knowing.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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So in an anthology titled No Shit, There I was, there have got to be some classic “no shit” stories, right? At least you’d hope so–and don’t worry, you’re not hoping in vain! We’ve got a couple that are definitely tales of strange happenings that lead to an odd and hilarious conclusion.

The first of these is Lo, He Has Risen, by Linda Tyler. You start off right in the head of a woman of a certain age who’s attending a Church of England service, enjoying the “bells and smells” routine. Then the comforting cultural theater is interrupted by an apparition of her deceased neighbor, and thing gets a bit silly.

I loved this story because it’s so indefatigably British. You can just hear it from the first words of the narration, read it in the way all of the characters react and interact because of mischievous ghost.There’s just something to this nice lady looking around her church that you couldn’t imagine an American doing. There’s a sly, wry sort of humor about the goings on that can’t be denied.

The best part is the way the ghost that brings people together, which I am not going to spoil for you–you’ll just have to read it, but all of the slush jackalopes were just tickled. The story is absolutely charming, and for the price of two cups of tea at a local cafe, you can support the kickstarter and have a copy of the book for yourself!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Your space ship has crash landed on a strange moon with a corrosive atmosphere. You are alone. You can talk to yourself–but you don’t like yourself all that much at this point–or you can talk to the odd, alien animals that flit through the stinging air, which look like nothing so much as silver fish.

This would make you the protagonist of Sarah Tchernev’s story, Silver Fish, the next offering from the No Sh!t, There I Was anthology. Life’s not being kind to him. On the other hand, he’s richly earned this particular fate.

I like a good character study , where the plot is internally driven and the external more a reflection of the conflicts and changes happening within. This story stuck with me because it has that arc like Cast Away, where it’s a single person against a hostile environment, only in this case the greater enemy is the one within, guilt and regret and the realization of mistakes that cannot be undone.

But what pushed this story into the “I will have this!” folder was Sarah’s use of language. There’s a dreamlike quality to the distant moon she creates, the choking atmosphere and the waving plants, the alien fish swimming through the unbreathable air. It’s like watching a human flounder around in a fish tank without a diving suit and then slowly developing gills–or at least believing he has.

It’s belief that’s the most dangerous, after all.

From this strange moon in the back end of known space to Uranus, this anthology is going to take you some strange places, guaranteed. It just needs a little kickstart.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.


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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

September 2017

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