The Town Drunk, February 2008

The Town Drunk is a webzine that bills itself as “publishing lighthearted and humorous short stories that contain elements of science fiction, fantasy, or the supernatural.” Usually, they are spot on with that claim. Except here they falter with one story, which I’d call science fiction but never lighthearted or humorous. Instead, words that come to mind are upsetting and this-made-me-uncomfortable. Exactly.

In “The Curse of the Friendly Forest” by Rod M. Santos, Sir Duncan is seeking the Bright Lady. When the trees are reluctant to help him, a trail of falling apples will eventually lead him to her home. There he hopes to find refuge from the Ebon Knight, a dastardly fellow that likes eating children covered in cranberry sauce. Only the Bright Lady may not be the saving grace Duncan was looking for…

This is Disney all disturbed. Or Monty Python freebasing. One of those. It’s also a fun, enjoyable story that is quick with the humor and satisfying with the plot. The Friendly Forest…is it rightfully named? It rings true of many fairy tale tropes, but Santos takes them for a fun ride, keeping the momentum going forward as Sir Duncan and the Ebon Knight battle for blood. I particularly liked the Bright Lady, a narcissistic lonely woman that gabs her heart out, regardless if anyone is listening. The better of the two stories in the February issue.

Rating: 8.5 anonymous stars out of 10

“Gimpbomb Enters Room” by Matthew Beyis a chatroom transcript. In it, a character by the screenname of Gimpbomb is looking for girls to chat with, but only finds adbots. And not just any adbots. These are the Cylon versions of new-wave advertising. You won’t even know what hits you until…well, they start schlecking soda pop and brand names your way. This, the notion, is humorous. What spews out of Gimpbomb’s keyboard, however, is not. The story is rated “beware” for chatroom profanity levels and strong sexual innuendo. The twist at the end is nicely done, but for all that it still isn’t worth sludging through all the filth. Is this what a chatroom (do people still use them?) transcipt actually looks like? Possibly. Does it make for a good narrative device? Nope.

Rating: 4.5 anonymous stars out of 10

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4 Comments »

  1. Gimpbomb Enters Room gave me a chuckle, but reminds me too much of any number of snippets from bash.org to really stand up on it’s own. I didn’t find it particularly disturbing or offensive (alas, chatrooms really are like that, for the most part), and it was a good idea, but I agree that the transcript doesn’t really work as a narrative technique.

    Speaking of bash.org, you might like this one: http://bash.org/?104383 😀

  2. Hey, AR, Rod Santos is the guy who gave us “Speed Dating and Spirit Guides” for Flash Fiction Online in January 2008.

  3. Sorry, I meant to actually complete a thought there: my point is that Rod seems to be kicking out a lot of good fiction lately. He hasn’t been published a lot before this year, but now he’s off to the races: a name to watch out for for good, usually-a-little-zany humorous fantasy.

  4. Oh, definitely. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of his and hope to see more in the future!

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