I was asked by T. Lucas Earle to review two short stories, one of which appeared in the Fall, 2012 issue of The Colored Lens. Both are available on Amazon for $0.99.
The Thirteenth Prophet is written in the style of an old-fashioned noir. Mulligan Burke has been hired to find out who kill one of the twelve “prophets” from whom personality overlays are generated for sale. Burke, who is known as Mad Dog, is the only person around not so imprinted which gives him an advantage he uses to cut through the smoke screens surrounding the prophet’s death. As he figures out what really happened, however, the tables are turned and he becomes the thirteenth prophet.
The story concept is original and Earle throws in some nice stylistic touches, although I could do with fewer sentence fragments.
In Monkey Talk, an ape in whom a speech augmentation chip has been planted finds himself “stuck” in Boston with a new assistant when a storm prevents him from returning to England. That “Professor Towry” feels Americans are less tolerant of talking monkeys than the Brits contributes to his getting into a fight with a maitre d’ and spending a night in jail.
Although equally original in concept, Monkey Talk didn’t totally work for me. At the beginning of the story, the narrator describes himself as a monkey, but later identifies himself as an ape. In other words he invites the discrimination he protests. Worse he believes the audience didn’t like his lecture because of their Irish roots, but not everyone in Boston is of Irish descent and since the lecture took place in the future at MIT, the percentage of people of Irish descent would be much smaller yet. Then there’s the unexplained story of what happened to the previous assistant. We discover she commited suicide, but don’t know why other than the fact that Professor T. dreams of her at night, implying some kind of sexual liaison. The new assistant’s motivation for putting up with him is another mystery to this reader.
T. Lucas Earle is an original story teller in the tradition of the authors of Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions. He sees the future and we’re not sure we want to go there except as a member of Mr. Earle’s audience.