Review | Isolation and Other Stories: by S.A. Barton


I’ve recently re-read this collection of stories by S. A. Barton, and thought I’d share my impressions of it, with its general theme of aloneness in the many worlds of SF.

A disclosure: Mr. Barton and I go a long way back to the now-defunct gaming shop where he coined my eldritch moniker. I’m posting this review because I like the stories, but I have no financial stake in this, and that’s how it should be. As someone who knows Mr. Barton, I’m likely a bit biased, but I’ll keep this review as fair as possible. I’ll not gush.

First, though, the stories…

Isolation:

In a world where everyone who’s anyone has a digital presence online, identity theft can be horrendous. In spades. Cue to our protagonist, Richard, whose troubles begin with the simple failure of a delivery order, and quickly snowball into personal disaster as his financial accounts are mysteriously hacked, leaving him among the millions of penniless and homeless in this dystopia of the Internet, and ultimately joining a revolution against those who made his predicament necessary…

Anticipation:

An asteroid traveling at close to the speed of light enters the solar system, slowing down and landing on Earth. This first-contact quickly goes bad as the aliens make no attempt to communicate, and soon begin to proliferate all over the planet, annihilating humans wherever they go and threatening to eradicate us. But in the one lonely part of the world the aliens have yet to go, a final bastion of hope for the human species is in the making…

The Flowers of Dawn:

Elaina Hirschbaum is a diplomat of Earth to the benevolent alien Helf Wanas. Her alien counterpart Eschavel Wan offers a gift for the gravesite of Elaina’s spouse, Coral. An innocent-looking alien seed, its germination and growth ultimately lead to a first contact with a wholly unexpected form of intelligence…

Turn Me On:

Tom is a soldier, one of the best, who nonetheless falls in the line of duty, but he rises again in an ongoing military experiment in robotic prostheses. He meets his therapist and fellow resurrectee, Dr. Pamela Burrier, who works to help him adjust to his new life, and who has a surprise for both of them, something far beyond the pale of simple brain-pattern uploading, something momentous…

Down On The Farm:

Daniel is a farmer —  not the kind you’re probably thinking of — but a farmer of transplant organs for hire who grows his product within his own body. He runs afoul of a dangerous organ-legging ring and it’s wealthy owners who’ve decided to harvest more from him than what he has to offer, much more than just the spares he grows within him. Along with his friend Deena and their contact Lisbeth, Daniel meets a set of truly vile antagonists worthy of a Bond movie, and an unexpected ally in the form of a reluctant superman…

These were all interesting in terms of story elements that I’ve seen just a bit in his earlier fiction, but used in new ways. The first and last of these tales were a bit longer than is usual for his writing style, but that wasn’t a problem, as there was much packed into these action-wise.

Those sorts of stories tend to require a more detailed treatment no matter the author to carry the fight scenes effectively. This upright hairless primate gives this collection two thumbs up, but that would be more if I were a bonobo.

The Author Online: S.A. Barton

Stuart A. Barton on Facebook

@Tao23 on Twitter

S. A. Barton: Seriously Eclectic

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