Ok, so this was actually released on 5th January and I’m running a bit behind. A quick glance at the Hub website reassures me that they are too.
The first issue of the year is always the flash fiction issue and thus has more than one story. Issue 72 has four stories of varying lengths; they define flash fiction quite broadly I think.
Quartermaster, Steve Cooper. This is about 500 words and I think the best story in the issue. The quartermaster is about to do something and we find out why. It’s deftly handled and left me feeling quite disturbed. 500 words is not a lot of space and no word is wasted. We know a lot about the world, about the protagonist, and about the terrible decision he has to make.
Day Trippers, Ellen J Allen. Locals save tourists from supenatural being in the moors. This didn’t work for me. There was a lot of dialogue, most of which was used to give the backstory, and usually that’s a good thing but in this case, it was stilted. There wasn’t much tension and the whole feel seemed to be one of resignation. At around 1500 words, it seemed too long to count as flash fiction.
The Girl in the Rose-Tinted Glasses and the Man in the Mirrorshades, DJ Muir. Not keen on the title. I usually don’t offer an opinion on titles because it’s something I find really hard to get right. I do think this title is too long. The story was a bit strange. It was well written and at 900 words, short enough to feel like flash fiction. But I didn’t really know what it was about. At the end, I got the impression it was an allegory for the turning of the wheel, the changing of the seasons. Or it might have been about two assassins and their perpetually reincarnating target.
The Harvest of the Machines, RJ Smith. This is the longest story at nearly 1700 words and is post-apocalyptic sf. Mostly I liked this. The narrative is quite compelling and the story is revealed at a nice pace. The tone is reflective and normally I wouldn’t enjoy that, but there is a lot behind this story and this style of telling it gets it done in few words. Told as action – as if the reader lives it with the narrator – then there’s enough here to make a novel. I hated the ending. It felt weaselly and changed the whole slant of the story.