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Snowballs From Mars

Publisher: Smashwords

Snowballs from Mars by Mark Gillespie is an excellent collection of ten short stories that run the gamut from ironic to quirky to downright horrifying. The book is a quick read and reminds me of a collection of short stories I read many years ago by Angela Carter called The Bloody Chamber, although that book leaned far more towards horror.

The first story is called "The Restoration of Rotten Meat" and tells the tale of a greedy politician, one all too anxious to get rid of a war monument that stands in the way of his building a prosperous café. Will his perspective change when the men in the statue come to life and carry him back to the war-torn vistas of WWII? "Me and Bruce Lee" is about a young girl dealing with the loss of her mother who decides to consult the local hermit who supposedly can speak to the dead. Instead of talking with her mother, she chooses to converse with her idol, Bruce Lee, who is able to help her see things about life and death more clearly. More importantly, she learns the value of family and those who love her.

"Killing Love" is just a hair over two pages and has that "Gift of the Magi" feel to it. It's a tale of an abused woman who is married to one brother, a violent oaf, but loves another, who just wants to rescue her. These things never end well. "And Then So Clear" is about a young man who has lost his way. Once a slightly successful musician, he is now suffering from a nervous breakdown and his parents send him to the country to stay with his aunt and uncle to get some rest. Stuck out in the middle of nowhere, he expects to be bored, but is instead invigorated by rural life. When he has to choose between a permanent life as a farmer and potential musical success again, which will he select?

"Melody's Song" is a fantastic tale about the folly of youth and what terrible ramifications it can have when you toss in stories about a fabled family of cannibals. The old "don't talk to strangers" adage has never been more fitting. "The Lotus-Eater" takes place in a reality where people "jack-in" to read books instantaneously a la The Matrix. When young Jack takes his beloved grandfather to a bookshop to experience this wonder, he can't seem to understand why the old man would rather take the time to read.

"The Wall" is one of the longer stories and presents an alternate world where radiation has destroyed much of what we know and everything has been overrun by mutants and monsters. The only thing protecting the remaining humans is a huge wall that separates them from the horrors that lay in wait. Or does it? "Billy Backwards" is a cautionary tale about extremist political parties and the importance of freedom and revolution.

"The Visitor" is one of my favorites and involves a visit from a recently deceased lover who wants to express regret at his actions prior to his death. As luck would have it, he's not the only one with regrets. Finally, "Funkheisen Hangover Boy" is about a musician who just can't seem to get a break and then magically, his big break comes, just when he least expects it… or so everyone would believe.

Snowballs from Mars is an interesting read, one that you'll burn through pretty quickly. The stories are excellently written and enjoyable, with most having just enough oddness to make you cock your head while reading. If you like your stories on the dark side, you'll enjoy Snowballs from Mars. I'd definitely read Mark Gillespie's work again. Be sure to check out a sample of the book via the link below.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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