Chicken Dinner, Review of Short Tales from Earth’s Final Chapter: 2020 Winning Collection Review by Tom Pahlow

Chicken Dinner

Review of Short Tales from Earth’s Final Chapter: 2020 Winning Collection

Review by Tom Pahlow


First off, let me congratulate everyone who submitted a story for this collection. In particular, I want to congratulate the four Authors that made it into the book.
EFC’s 2020 winning collection has stories of tyrants, monsters, love, grief, new relationships and more. A truly diverse set of stories that seemed to enjoy pulling my emotions every which way.

No place to start but the beginning, so let’s dive in with The Wilding by Martha Everitt and illustrated by Mikayla Burton. Any student of mythology knows that the forest hides all manner of monsters.
Unfortunately for the residents of Eden, their monster is considerably more terrifying and real. In
The Wilding, we get to follow Riss as he ventures beyond the walls of Eden for the first time.
Underlying his adventure, Everitt tells us a beautiful story of two brothers and the lengths they would go to for each other. While showing us the beauty of nature and the horror of super- predators, she also puts us right in the shoes of the raiders of Eden. A beautiful story, full of action.

Tyrants be warned, Ever-life by Jim Horlock, illustrated by Daud Al Khalis, is a peek into the future. In it, we follow Rezag and his crew as they hunt for the Ever-life. Rezag is ruthless to his crew, paranoid that his sickness will incite mutiny and needlessly brutal. Few characters have I disliked more in all the books I have read. Which is exactly what I imagine Horlock was going for.
Watch as Rezag’s paranoia and desperation drive him to search for the secrets of immortality. Then watch as he pushes ahead despite complaints from his crew and the ominous warnings they come across. Finally, watch as he achieves everything he wanted, and exactly what he deserves. A great hate-read if you want to see some just desserts, just don’t eat the soup.

I feel like it’s only fair to give an emotional disclaimer for Jackary Salem’s Lungs Full of Water, illustrated by Nicole Slater. It punched me in the emotional gut and brought me to tears. So be warned.
In the story, we follow Grant as he is first captured and then becomes a part of the Gray Pirates…on the Gray Sea…led by Gray…the Gray pirate. Despite possible branding issues, the crew are a rowdy, fun and humorous group of pirates. Their comedy and vitality is perfectly counterbalanced by Grant's overwhelming grief at the loss of his previous crew. Salem shows us all

the tragedy of grief and the pain of healing. Love, humour and the sometimes gargantuan act of living can help us all in our recovery.

Last but certainly not least is Intertwined by Victoria Clapton and Illustrated by Maria F Loscher. A profoundly Irish story, not just because it’s set in Ireland but in the way it feels when you read it. The damp after a storm, which is where Clapton’s story begins.
Muireann’s town of Mair is in dire need of more rope for fishing nets, without it, they will not survive. When she makes the trek to the Between she is caught up in a folktale of fish people and half-submerged cities, not to mention accusations of thievery. Intertwined is a story of how first encounters can go when the protagonists are level-headed and actually talk first.
We’re all just people after all.

A big pat on the back to all the Authors and illustrators of the Winning Collection. You all get chicken dinners, or a soy-based chicken substitute dinner for vegetarians and vegans, for your excellent stories.