Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review: Shattered Wonders: Five Science Fiction Stories by Jeff Ambrose

Shattered Wonders: Five Science Fiction Stories by Jeff Ambrose is exactly what the title suggests. The book contains four short stories, The Senex, Butterfly Rose, Erasing God, and Alien Camp, and one novelette, Mission to Edia-Prime. Each story has what the author defines as a dark bent. Rather than describe each story here, which would no doubt spoil them since they are short, I’ll leave that for you to discover and enjoy on your own.

The Good: In my lifetime, I haven’t read many short story compilation books. But they can be a very satisfying read, and Shattered Wonders is no exception. What I enjoyed most about each story, particularly the first four, is that they take a concept that is simple and wrap some form of human emotion around them. What would happen to a priest if any thoughts of God were erased from his memory? What if you did infiltrate a locked down government facility that was the home to aliens? These and other questions are explored. The stories are fun to read and are accompanied with an explanation of each story by the author. This gives some insight into his thoughts behind writing the story, which is interesting to read, but…

The Bad: Many authors include an introduction, and sometimes a closing, when they write a book. Often these detail their reasons for writing a novel. In Shattered Wonders, the author does it on every end–the beginning of the compilation, after each story, and finally an epilogue for the compilation. I don’t mind reading an author’s thoughts behind his writing, but to this degree was a little much. While the introduction and epilogue would have been fine, I could have done without the explanations after each story. Part of reading any story, watching any movie, or watching any television program is taking what you want from it–interpreting from it what you want and making it your own. The explanations after each story sort of take away from that fun of reading fiction because you clearly understand the author’s intentions.

The Ugly: I really hate to do this. The Ugly is always an optional piece in my reviews. This book would not have any comment in this part except to say there was nothing ugly about it. But, unfortunately, there was something. It was typos. In the first three stories it’s not really an issue. However, Alien Camp & Mission to Edia-Prime have a large number of them. With self-published authors, I tend to be forgiving in this regard, since I’m one, too. But there were so many of them while I was reading that it took away from the stories I was reading. Too many typos proved to be a distraction and detracted from what is otherwise a fine collection of stories.

Overall, I really liked Shattered Wonders. It’s a wonderful collection of thought provoking stories. And it does a good job of leaving you wanting more because the concepts could be explored even further. I highly suggest you pick this one up and give it a read. You will not be disappointed.

Shattered Wonders is available for $3.99 on Smashwords.