Book Review – Smoke and Mirrors by Tom Benson

I like short stories. Honestly, I always have. I guess it stems from reading shorts in various sci-fi magazines when I was growing up. Or perhaps it’s just because I’m not the most patient person in the world. At any rate, while I enjoy a novel I can sink my teeth into, a collection of short stories can be a blast to read.

I’m not sure if it’s a British convention or what, but the shorts I’ve read from British authors tend to be shorter than their American counterparts. Personally, I follow the US convention of fairly lengthy short stories when I write, but Benson follows the British convention which means some of these short stories are really short.

And yet, even given the paucity of words in a given story, Benson manages to convey a complete tale in a tiny amount of time. There are some in here that could be longer, but he manages to get his point across – oftentimes violently – in a concise manner.

Benson doesn’t shy away from action or violence. Being a former member of British military not only means he’s quite capable of dealing with the seamier side of life, but gives him an insight into detail most of us aren’t privy of. The stories in Smoke and Mirrors don’t always portray the best in people, but they portray what they find accurately and unflinchingly. From the mother who executes her son’s kidnappers to the imprisoned man who kills his captors without even realizing what they are, Benson delves deep into a dangerous psyche and wallows in the blood and madness.

Seriously, how can you not appreciate that?

These stories aren’t for the faint of heart. If you get the vapors thinking about bad things happening, this isn’t the collection for you. But if you like quick peeks into the dark underbelly of the world, Tom Benson has you covered in Smoke and Mirrors.

And for only $1.99, you really can’t go wrong.

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Book Review – The Welcome by Tom Benson et al

For starters, the full title of the Book is The Welcome and Other Sci-Fi Stories but it just looked awkward sitting up there taking up all the space. It’s also not just Tom Benson’s work, although he was the primary author of the collection. Other writers contributed stories to The Welcome as well:

  • AA Jankiewicz
  • Pam Kesterson
  • Paul A Ruddock
  • Val Tobin
  • WK Tucker

So, that settled, let’s tuck in to the book. In case you hadn’t guess, this is a collection of science fiction stories that run the gamut from horror to hope to self-sacrifice and everything in between. It’s what I like to refer to as a smorgasbord of awesome. Tom even added a few bonus stories from his other collections including a bit of sci-fi erotica.

Like all good science fiction, the stories focus on the human elements of the narrative and use the sci-fi elements as backdrop. This kind of sci-fi gives writers whole new worlds to populate and cuts the restraining orders of reality to ribbons. Always, though, the stories come back to the people that populate those worlds and how they react to the adversity of being stuck on strange planets, eaten by blobs, put in a position where they have to sacrifice themselves to save others, or the woman who comes across a very special man.

Sometimes operatic, sometimes intimate, sometimes intimate in that way, The Welcome and Other Sci-Fi Stories provides a tasty treat of delightful morsels of science fiction. And, at only $1.99 it’s a steal.

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Links for the other authors in the anthology

 

Muchas gracias!

A sincere thank you to Sylva Fae for her wonderful review of Henchmen.  Read her review here and enjoy the rest of her blog which is filled with magic and wonder.  Also a shout-out to the talented Tom Benson for his kick-ass review!

I think I might have just won some kind of award for maximum link density here…  Go check out their blogs and writing, Sylva and Tom are extremely talented people and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet them – even if it was only online.

Thank you both.

Review – A Taste of Honey by Tom Benson

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Let’s just cut right to the chase and call this what it is: a revenge story fueled by adrenaline and nitrous oxide.  This is a shot of whisky and a punch in the gut.  It’s like having someone go upside your head with a gold brick wrapped in silky blonde hair.  A Taste of Honey is crime fiction and its raw and unadulterated best.  Think of Richard Stark’s The Hunter and you’ve got an idea of what you’re in for; that edgy level of crime where you find yourself rooting for the bad guy because the bad guy is hunting even worse guys.

The story works like this: An NYPD detective finds her sister has been systematically abused and murdered.  Our detective changes her appearance, becoming the titular Honey and goes after her sister’s murderers.  The chase will lead her through all kinds of muck and nasty characters.  Benson doesn’t skimp on details, everything Honey does is lovingly captured and described; wrapped in a bow and dropped at your feet.

If you’re into edgy crime fiction (and who isn’t?), this is definitely worth your time.

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