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Review: Rise – QSF’s 10th Annual Flash Fiction Contest


Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Sci-Fi

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

RISE (noun / verb)

Eight definitions to inspire writers around the world, and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell:

1) An upward slope or movement
2) A beginning or origin
3) An increase in amount or number
4) An angry reaction
5) To take up arms
6) To return from death
7) To become heartened or elated
8) To exert oneself to meet a challenge

Rise features 300-word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.

The Review

Paranormal Romance Guild and Other Worlds Ink have apparently taught me that I do like short-format fiction. Then they handed me the extreme version—flash fiction—in the form of Other Worlds Ink’s tenth annual flash fiction anthology. It was a format I’d never encountered before—complete short stories limited to 300 words. I had no idea what to expect, somewhat overwhelmed at the idea of 121 stories covering a wide range of my favorite genres.

At first I was thinking of this jam-packed book as a sort of bag of popcorn or chips—because you know you can’t eat just one. As I read it, however, a different analogy came to mind: Jelly Bellys. Everyone of them is a little sweet (even when they’re dark), and each story a complete, full-flavored, emotional adventure, with 300 words or less, each with a distinct savor—not all of them equally pleasing to any reader. It was remarkable to me the wide range of ways in which the broad theme of “rise” was interpreted—from bread to zombies, from spiritual to physical uplift. Some authors were more literal in their approach, while others pushed the theme to its conceptual limits.

There were three “prize winners,” a few judge’s personal favorites, and a bunch of honorable mentions. I was interested especially in the stories chosen by the various judges—because, while I didn’t necessarily agree, I understood what it was that made them special to those wise and literary readers.

I won’t mention any of them in particular, except for the “first prize” story, which is at the end of the anthology. I have to say, it was a wonderful way to end the anthology, offering up a vision that mixes despair and hope in equal measure, with a vivid visual tale that suited the theme of “rise” in an unexpected way. We are living in an uncomfortable time right now, and not just for LGTBQ+ people. This story, in its diminutive format, seemed to open its arms to comfort everyone who fears for our future.

Some of these stories made me smile—or even laugh out loud. Some, honestly, left me a little cold, while others hit me in the gut and brought tears to my eyes. Every single one of them, however, was creative and concise and made its essential point, delivering pictures and emotions through the magic of words.

I started reading this anthology with a sense that all these little teeny stories were going to irritate me. What happened is that I got caught up in consuming them, one after another, filled with their individual flavors and moved by the gifts their creators were offering me.

Five stars.

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City. 

The Paranormal Romance Guild was established in 2009 by 8 Indie Authors and one Reviewer to be a constant help for authors. You can be a free author member, submitting your work for review OR become a Premium Author Member for a small yearly fee and enjoy many extra services including Free Beta Reads, Author Giveaways and many others. Your reviews are posted on our 3 FB Sites, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. WE REVIEW ALL GENRES LGBTQ+ welcome.

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