A critical Review of Short Tales From EFC Bk 5
By Ram T
I was thrilled to get my hands on Book 5 of Short Tales from Earth's Final Chapter. It’s been some time since I’ve revisited the world and the anticipation was a thrill on its own. The Short Tales series is an eclectic bag where individual authors are allowed the freedom to craft stories of any genre within the essentially Sci-Fi landscape of EFC.
EFC Book 5 sets sail with Music & Mutiny, a tale written by Mark Mumm with Oz Osborn doing the illustrations.
The story itself was exceedingly simple and just too rife with some current-world tropes to be immersive. Most distracting of those was that one of the three main characters is written with they/them pronouns.
In a story where multiple individuals interact in several action scenes, this unusual language pattern made it difficult to tell whether actions were being performed by that individual or the entire group. It made the narrative unnecessarily clunky.
I think it's a great disservice to the EFC brand that Music & Mutiny begins this book. While I powered through because I am a longtime fan of the EFC saga, many newcomers and casual browsers may be dissuaded if they believe this story sets the tone for the entire book.
Fortunately, it does not and the second in the quartet shatters the relative peace, bigly. Dove: A Mother’s Instinct, written by Martha Everitt and illustrated by Natasha Novy was a welcome change of quality and pace. It seemed to cover far more ground than its page count of 18 suggests.
There is enmity on a scale and scope that only a lost friendship can produce, there is history, there are bonds both broken and unbreakable… and a lot of violence. It's done well, though, and the strands are nicely tied up at the end.
You may want to skip this chapter if you are squeamish because the author’s promise of ferocious action hangs like a pall from the start and is true to her word.
There is no respite with Aaron J Webber’s Slayers of Ouray, which is illustrated by Romulo Soares. This is probably the most intelligent story of the lot, dealing as it does with issues in a post-apocalyptic world that have parallels with the one we inhabit today.
What I liked was the shifting sands of allegiances, not in the characters’ minds but in my own. It felt like I was very shrewdly convinced into taking a side by the author. He then crafted a series of incidents and narrations that stealthily made me question my earlier decision. I love it when that happens.
The book signs off with No Good Deed by Jackary Salem, which is brought to life by the art of The Creator. I liked the art in this chapter more than any of the others. It’s uncanny how the plot resembles that of surprise hit film Sound of Freedom which is currently killing it in theatres.
Like the film, there is an uplifting message but one that’s constantly shadowed by the specter of the ugly realities that mark a cruel world. Like so many short tales that make up the EFC saga, it’s sometimes hard to see where this story fits into the Sci-Fi genre. I don’t regard that as a flaw and it certainly doesn’t detract from the power of the message behind it.
Short Tales from Earth's Final Chapter, Book 5 is probably the most action-packed of all that I have read so far. If you can get over the misfire at the start, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours, whether or not you’re a Sc-Fi fan.