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Rating from TwistedSciFi
For a change of pace, I picked up Steven Utley’s Ghost Seas to read for a long holiday weekend. It’s a book of eclectic short stories. It’s the perfect sort of book to bring along on a short vacation or long flight.
Since the focus of my blog is Science Fiction, it’s safe to assume that there are at least a few Science Fiction stories tucked into this collection. Other broad themes include the US Civil War, Western, Horror and life in the Caribbean.
Here are a few of my favorite short stories included in Ghost Seas:
The Tall Grass: This is the first Science Fiction story that appears in the book. It deals with time travel and the consequences of the things that people bring along with them when they travel through time. I can’t share much more without spoiling the story.
Michael Bates Michael Bates Michael Bates Michael: This is four-page short story, and it’s the funniest story in the book; it made me laugh out loud. It’s definitely a dark humor, however. This is another Science Fiction story that addresses challenges associated with time travel.
Haiti: This is an excellent story written many years before the Jan 12th, 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Utley chronicles the extreme poverty and health issues that persist even today in Haiti.
Utley depicts the United States as a nation willing to spend lavishly on missions to Mars, yet unwilling to spend any money to send life-saving, critical medicine supplies to Haiti. How ironic, with NASA’s cancellation of space shuttle missions last year, and the recent historic docking of the first privately launched space craft with the International Space Station. While government funding has run out for manned space exploration, Haiti is still stuck in the same tailspin that it’s been caught in for the last few decades.
Utley delves into the complexities of attempting to deal with the challenges in Haiti including corruption, local superstition and infrastructure. This very thoughtful examination of life in Haiti also sheds light on why some selfless individuals are willing to live in Haiti and make huge sacrifices to improve life for the people of Haiti.
Edge of The Wind: In another Caribbean themed story, Utley examines life on the islands. The alpha-male character, MacLeish, makes his annual visit to the Caribbean where he hops from island to island with his one-dimensional, trusted local guide, Burgett.
The story is unfurled from the perspective of Anita, a recent girlfriend, who joins MacLeish for this particular visit. In the course of the story, Utley shares interesting details on island superstition, island class structure, and even the characteristics of the currents between the islands.
The climax of the story occurs when the characters are presented with an unsolvable challenge, and we are left to see how the different characters respond.
Although I certainly enjoyed some stories more than others, I did not find a bad story in the bunch; Steven Utley is clearly a talented writer.
The stories range in length from four pages to twenty-five. The four stories that I mention above would all garner 5 star reviews by themselves. For me personally, I found that the quality of the stories increased toward the end of the book with my overall rating being a solid 4 stars.
Have you read Ghost Seas or any of the work of Steven Utley? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Ghost Seas.