Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Book Review: Twice Upon a Time - edited by Joshua Allen Mercier


Twice Upon a Time is a short story anthology with a focus on re-tellings and re-imaginings of fairy tales, folklore, and myths. I don’t tend to review anthologies, but I do love me a good fairy tale and as I’m also a fan of the Cinder series I wanted to read more re-imaginings of the same genre.

I’ll find it easier to review the anthology as a whole, as it would be too much to review each individual story. Of course, some I enjoyed more than others but I’ll try to speak generally when possible. In general, I really did enjoy reading the different stories. At times I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to identify the fairy tales/folklore they were inspired by and I’m not sure it’s as simple as my inability to recognize the story. Some were definitely based on obscure fairy tales (which there's nothing wrong with), while others weren’t a retelling but rather a completely new story with the same moral lesson as the original fairy tale. In that case, I likely wouldn’t have included it in the anthology or would have advertised it differently.

Some stories were not short stories at all, but instead were excerpts of a full novel. Those were the worst for me and I don’t think the editor should have included those at all. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, but they don’t have a place in this type of anthology.

I also was not a fan of how the stories were arranged. There didn’t seem to be any flow or pattern to the entries. I likely would have tried to organize them in some form of pattern, such as moral lessons, type of retelling (alternate universe, sci-fi, role reversals, etc) but as far as I could tell it was a bit of a jumble. There was also the inclusion, near the end of the anthology, of two biblical narratives which seemed very jarring and out of place. I understand that the anthology was advertised as including myth, but I would be very careful calling Old Testament narratives myth, especially if they are based on events that have been historically confirmed. There’s a completely separate genre for stories set in that time period. Two in fact: historical fiction, and Biblical fiction.

Overall, the stories chosen for the anthology were well written and I enjoyed the imagination of the various authors. Again, some of the stories I wouldn’t consider re-tellings, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them for the unique qualities. I would have preferred a bit more flow to the layout of the anthology as a whole. But overall I did enjoy the variety of stories.

You can buy the anthology on Amazon.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Excerpt from "Jason Caroll and the Olympians Book 1: Incarnation of Apollo" by Solomon Merid

An exclusive excerpt from "Jason Caroll and the Olympians Book 1: Incarnation of Apollo" by Solomon Merid

Cover Image

"I understand what you are saying," said Zeus, looking intently at the young, solar physicists. "TV and radio transmission all over the world have been disrupted. Aurora borealis and aurora australis have been lit like giant, Christmas trees."
"You are right about it, Archmagus Zeus," said N’krumah. "Solar storms generated by the corona stream through space at speeds as high as 800 miles per second. They had disrupted their television transmitting satellites and had also temporarily altered the Earth’s magnetic field."
"There were problems with computers and the Internet too," said Indira. "Power transmissions in various parts of the world were disrupted. Huge power blackouts had sent many cities into complete darkness."
"Let me have a look," said Zeus and headed to one of the solar telescopes which used special filters in order not to damage the eyes.
Zeus brought both his eyes to the binoculars of the solar telescope. He saw huge, coronal loops, known as fountains of fire, writhing like giant, celestial snakes of fire. There were so many of them close to each other. "O Holy Presence!" he exclaimed.
Apollo went to the solar telescope and looked at the sun. He saw giant, coronal loops suddenly touching each other and causing a huge solar flare. "O tempora! O mores!" he exclaimed.
"What is it? You just saw two coronal loops fuse together," said Zeus.
"They are coronal loops which have just touched each other and short-circuited each other," said N’Krumah.
"They are frightening, those coronal loops which short-circuit each other," said Shapiro. "
Come and look through this telescope."
As Apollo took a step or two toward Shapiro Zeus put up his hand, "Stop! First we must see baby Jason and his mother in the hospital," he said. "Come over here, Apollo."
Apollo went and stood near Zeus. Zeus pointed his staff at the wall-sized screen in the lab and a huge golden-yellow image of Sol in ultra-high definition lit up on the giant, holographic screen. The screen showed the huge, writhing, coronal loops on the sun in 3-D.
Shapiro, N’krumah, Indira and the three Olympians stood in a bunch and watched the strange, mesmerizing sight on the surface of the sun. Sol looked like some strange lifeform of fire. Zeus and Poseidon stood side by side. They looked like identical twins.
"Go ahead, Poseidon," said Zeus.
Poseidon pointed his trident at the screen and said, "Delia’s hospital room" in a soft voice.
The screen split into two. Sol appeared on the left side and the image of Delia and Avatar Jason appeared on the right side. Athena and Ares were standing outside the door of Delia’s room. Ares wore a stylish, black suit by Giorgio Armani. A white shirt, a flowery purple tie and dark sunglasses completed the attire. Athena wore a black, leather overcoat with imitation fur collars. Athena and Ares vanished as two nurses appeared in the corridor leading to Delia’s room.
Zeus waved his staff in the air and said, "Zoom in!"
The image of baby Jason lying in his crib suddenly jumped onto the right side of the screen. Suddenly baby Jason’s face turned red as beetroot. Lines of rainbow colors flitted over his face intermittently. A golden-yellow halo formed around his head. Athena had placed a Sleeping Charm on Delia and she was sound asleep as usual. All of them stood inside the Astrolab and observed Sol and baby Jason projected side by side on the screen. The coronal loops on the surface of Sol were so close together that they short-circuited and produced a solar flare every five minutes or so. They observed something astounding. Whenever two coronal loops short-circuited each other and produced a solar flare baby Jason had an attack of hiccups and he burped loudly. The instruments also showed an increase in Jason’s heartbeat.
"Great galaxy!" Poseidon shouted. "It appears that Jason’s physiological conditions are working in synch with solar phenomena on Sol."
"CORRELATION OF FLARES AND BODY FUNCTIONS OF JASON DETECTED," said the speakers of the supercomputer.
"I will be damned! What is going on, Zeus?" asked Apollo. His eyes were riveted on the two halves of the screen.
"SOL AND JASON ARE IN SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP." said the speakers of the supercomputer.
As if in answer a huge coronal loop on Sol appeared on the left side of the screen and waves of psychedelic lights undulated around baby Jason’s head.
"Holy Presence!olyHolhhhh" Poseidon exclaimed.

This author is currently working on publishing the book, and we hope to have news of purchasing outlets soon!

Friday, 1 February 2019

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