These may be 3-minute reads (one or two maybe a little longer), but it is clear from very early on that their composition was far from brief – the author has put a huge amount of work into each one of these stories, and moulded them in a very unique style. Although only an average of 750 words, each displays a particularly impressive knowledge of its respective content. Upon starting to read, first impressions are that Richard is a very good writer. Writing flash fiction is not an easy task – far more difficult than it sounds – and it takes a particular quality of wordsmith to pull it off fifty times in a row; this author achieves that skilfully.
Although described as “stories”, much of the work in this book presents more as creative prose – as the high-brow monologue of historical fact, philosophy and theorization by its clearly educated and travelled author. Richard relishes setting the scene at the start of each piece, and, at times, the “story” itself becomes peripheral – the main focus almost always rests in the context; he fits a huge amount into 800 words on each occasion. While, by the pen of another writer, this may at times have become annoying, in the case of this author, there is enough diversity of subject and sharp text to entertain the reader. That said, while this book claims to cross genres, a large proportion of the works fall very firmly into the category of futuristic science fiction – sometimes bleak – in the vein of Douglas Adams’s work, with scattered homage to George Orwell. Combined with the tales of ancient history, the writer’s style reminds me very much of the monologue of “Cloud Atlas”. While this fantastical theme is not particularly my own cup of tea, I do have my favourites across the genres: the tale of a pig that can talk to a man, and relates its tale of escape from the slaughterhouse; the reported discovery of an ancient Martian base protecting the Earth; my favourite would probably be the uniquely clever and inspired tale in which the narrator has an innate ability to “read” the apparently random strokes in a contemporary painting, and creates the profile of a victim in need of saving.
If you appreciate talent of a more high-brow or academic slant (with a particular emphasis on science fiction), I believe you are certain to find appeal in this very good collection. If, on the other hand, your tastes are of a more mainstream or pulp fiction nature, then perhaps this is not for you. Personally, I liked it a lot.
In : Book Reviews