December 13, 2017

Review: No Humans Allowed

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“Your droids,” says the unnamed bartender in a famous sci-fi flick, “they’ll have to wait outside.”

Perhaps, cyber-discrimination is a pressing social issue in a “galaxy, far, far away…” But what if those protagonists ever manage to turn in table on humanity?

That’s the challenge facing writers featured in this week’s review. No Humans Allowed out from Fiction River publishing features a series of unique short story tales, all with one caveat: the main protagonist character driving the story cannot be human. The challenge was put out at a writer’s work shop, and the authors delivered magnificently. And no, writers couldn’t get away with humans that merely had magical abilities or superpowers; the tales herein all feature non-human main characters, with no pesky humanoids mucking up the story-line with their primate drama. Extra points were awarded for writers who could spin a tale with no humans in sight.

Here you’ll find intelligent derelict spacecraft searching for purpose, Goblins looking for romance, and enhanced intelligent underpants struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Think about it: how many non-human intelligences do you know? And yes, anthropomorphizing dogs and/or cats was kinda a gray area we’re assuming for the writing exercise as well. Putting thoughts and motivation into a pair of “smart” underpants as it tries to come to terms with a world where humans are extinct reminds us of Douglas Adams’ concept of what a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias would have to come to terms with as they suddenly materialize over the surface of a distant planet.

Likewise, one can only imagine what would go through the mind of an ancient space probe as it lazily drifts around the core of our galaxy. I can’t help but think that those Voyagers and Pioneer spacecraft might feel a little “used and abused” by humanity, which simply cast them off for eternity. Perhaps, V’ger was justified in returning to wipe out the Earth in the first Star Trek film after all…

Fun fact: we once did a back of the envelope calculation of just how many derelict alien spacecraft might be orbiting around the Milky Way Galaxy.

No Humans Allowed really gives these budding authors a chance to stretch out and create convincing non-human characters and place them in equally alien universes, a tall order for a short story. The short story format is really challenging in this regard, as the author is really up against it in terms of development and world building.

Be sure to check out No Humans Allowed, for either a great summer read on a blue-sanded alien beach or under the skies of good old Earth.

-Also, be sure to check out our other Fiction River compilation reviews, including Universe Beneath, Recycled Pulp and Alchemy and Steam.

-And don’t forget, with next month’s total solar eclipse coming up, we’ve got lots of original eclipse-fueled science fiction tales at our store, including Exeligmos, Shadowfall and the Syzygy Gambit. Two, Peak Season and Class Field Trip, center specifically around the August 21st, 2017 total solar eclipse. I challenged myself to write just one eclipse-themed sci-fi tale, and came up with about a dozen ideas.

 

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