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flesh phantoms by Alan P. Scott

cynical biped 

The stories here are short (some very short) and are mostly sf – that is, speculative fiction: fantasies, myths, science fiction, slipstream . . . all the flavors of fabulation except, I hope, for the mundane. Many were written with the audience of the Usenet newsgroup talk.bizarre in mind, back when text was the thing.

—APS

Note: flesh phantoms contains some graphic sexual content, graphic violence, and harsh language.


A collection of stories

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Listed: Jan 22, 2009

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Interesting collection of short stories

By Linda Schoales, editor

Feb 19, 2009: “Flesh Phantoms” is a collection of short stories written by one author. Some of them are very short, more like story fragments or the author’s thoughts, while others are a more conventional length. They’re all interesting, sometimes bordering on brilliant. The tone varies between whimsical and sardonic, but there’s almost always a touch of wry wit lurking in the background, as well as some serious thought and social commentary.

The writings are grouped into 7 “Filters”. The stories in “100 Words” are literally 100 words long. It’s a difficult art form, trying to tell a story in 100 words, and these are a mixed lot. Of the ones I read, some are really just short essays, while the others are story fragments or unstructured poems. They’re interesting but I suspect they’re an acquired taste. I had to read them a few times to get a sense of what they were about.

The stories in “Alternative Jehovahs” are longer, and have a plot or at least a story arc. I really enjoyed these, although some Fundamentalist Christians might find them offensive. The humour is rather dry, and it’s used for social and religious commentary. The characters are interesting and the stories are well written.

“La Creme” is a list of the author’s favourite stories from his collection, which is listed under “All Alphabetical”. When I was browsing the “All Alphabetical” list I found a really sweet, whimsical fable called “Dog and Cat” about, strangely enough, a dog and a cat. The dog lives outdoors and has always wondered what it would be like to live inside the house. The cat has always dreamed of going outside. One day they get a chance to trade places. This story was lighter than most of the others but really good.

“Dream Logs” is a mixed collection of very short pieces, less than a screenful each. They have the incoherence and quirky logic of actual dreams, and are kind of fun to read. “Marketing Genius” is a set of very funny, tongue-in-cheek ads for products inspired by comic books, children’s books, the First Amendment, and Windows error codes.

The whole site looks like a pre-Win95 screen, with black background, and text in glowing green, yellow and white. I found it hard on the eyes for any length of time but others may find it adds a nostalgic glow to the stories. Younger readers can see what old time programmers mean when they talk about the days of punch cards and video terminals. There’s a ‘70s feel to the stories as well, with references to “Stranger in a Strange Land” and other period literature.

“Flesh Phantoms” is a mixed collection of short stories, short essays, and other forms of short fiction. The writing is always interesting, always witty and usually pokes fun at some part of society. If you’re a fan of short stories in all their variety you should definitely check it out.

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