Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't You Wish!

By Matt Gray. What on earth — or off — are you supposed to do with a Jinn who grants you three wishes, but who insists there’s no such thing as magic? And then moves into your life (and your apartment), and takes over everything from what you have for dinner, to what you wear and where you work? Stuff the creature back into the back alley pickle jar from which you rescued it?

No, you invade the sacred precincts of Washington’s political elite, fast talk your way into an all-expense-paid fact finding mission, buy a new (well, new to you) convertible, confront the corrupt and moderately murderous trustees of a world-famous snack food company, get kidnapped a few times too many, find out what really happened in the Crash of ’29, search for a lost will and a misplaced treasure, and tangle with a lively assortment of blondes, brunettes, and redheads . . . all of which turn out to be the same person (and she’s not crazy).

Oh, and lay the foundation for world peace and prosperity by opening up democratic access to capital credit to make every child, woman, and man on earth an owner, demonstrating the obvious truth that it’s a case of own or be owned in this world or any other.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Missteps of Melanie (A Chapter Play)

By Matt Gray.  Take a beautiful heroine transported by astral projection to another universe in which she undergoes perils unheard of in our mundane world, overcoming every obstacle with courage and ingenuity in her relentless quest to defeat dictators bent on universal conquest, free a people held in virtual slavery and fight her way home against insurmountable odds, and what have you got?

Not this book.

No deep issues or world-shaking events here. Instead of taking hundreds of pages delving deep into imponderable imponderables, ultimately deciding that nothing is worthwhile and you might as well go jump off a bridge and end it all before somebody ends it for us in a nuclear or economic holocaust, this novella presents a light diversion for a few hours’ amusement. One or two things might make you pause and think, and (if so) the author offers his most sincere apologies. The effort to create something that a reader doesn’t feel he or she has to hide under the mattress from his or her mother, as well as entertain resulted in something above the usual literary pabulum offered these days. In addition, you will not see:

• Gratuitous sex and violence (anything along those lines is absolutely necessary . . . trust us),

• Gratuitous sax and violins (no music at all, that we recall, although the reader is free to improvise something exciting during the fight scenes),

• Gratuitous . . . okay, we’ve done that one to death,

• Bad (or good) pastiches of other humorous fantasy and science fiction (why buy fake Robert Aspirin or Keith Laumer when the real thing is one, better, and two, cheaper?),

• Forced, non-situational jokes that won’t make sense to anyone outside the inner circle when this book achieves the status of cult classic (next week some time).

What have you got? Just an enjoyable piece of science fiction that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is.

Take and read — you’ll be glad you did.

Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy and Other Stories

By Matt Gray.  Matt Gray, best known for his humorous science fiction and fantasy, does have a serious side that manages to boil over once in a great while and find its way into his fiction. (We won’t mention his non-fiction, for which you will search in vain.)

Humorous or serious, however, most of the stories in this collection are bound together by the same theme: the failure of our social and financial technology to keep pace with advancing technology. Here we’ll find miners in the Asteroid Belt, sword-and-sorcery heroes at home, a few deals with the Devil, and even a successfully unsuccessful inventor.

If you’re looking for something to while away an idle hour or two, albeit in a moderately profitable way, give this collection of never-before published short stories a try. Who knows? It might give you an idea or two. It will certainly entertain.