Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories – Andrea Speed
A collection of tales filled with monsters, be they human or beast, ranging in setting from dystopia to pitch black noir and even general silliness. From the ludicrous to the frighteningly plausible; from deep space to after the end of the world. There are clumsy werewolves and bloody revenge, monster sleep overs and a dieting fad sure to kill your appetite.
Whether looking into the past or the future, you’re sure to find that stuff gets really weird.
Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories is a collection of flash fiction showcasing Andrea Speed’s fertile imagination. These stories range from death by crab invasion, random futuristic adverts, your average vampires and mages, and adventures in alternate dimensions. I love the stories! They were usually just a couple of pages long but most felt complete, some have high-impact and the rest showed good promise if turned into full-length books.
The collection is divided into 5 parts. The first part is the apocalypse section where various world’s end scenarios were speculated. This is my favorite part. The first story When the Rains Came reminded me of Hitchhiker’s Guide but instead of saying good bye and thanking us for all the fish, the dolphins participated in the wholesale slaughter of humanity along with the rest of ocean life. “Clean the oceans, humans” I think is the takeaway message here. It’s the End of the World as We Know It and I Don’t Give a Fuck stood out the most for me. Not only the title says it all and the MC was ace, the unnamed MC did the things I planned to do in case people were wiped out by a virus. Magic welders, aliens and vampires were also featured and there was another interesting scenario where the world falls apart because people were infected by ennui. Very plausible really. A couple of times the author was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s idea of the end of the world. Not the brightest view of humanity overall in this part of the collection.
The second part is full of absurd randomness from The International House of Cthulhu where you either eat the food or the food eats you, to Mr. Fix-it, a sweet human+bot slash where a human named Elon, with the help of a nice bot name Slom, tries to survive aliens taking over the space station. In between these, there is a cute love story, Cartoon Logic, where comic strip characters step out of a door to the real world and the fun, Mad Monster Sleep Over where monsters try to find answers to a fellow monster’s death. It is also apparent Andrea Speed does not like Christmas. I like the idea of turning the beloved Christmas symbols into terrifying beings because a monster Santa is really scary. Probably inspired by the French film or by Billy Idol, Eyes Without a Face is about pesky disembodied eyes infesting a house where a gay couple lives. Where these things come from nobody knows but yeah, that’s how random this is.
Part three is what I like to think of as the Tarantino section. Keyword: hard-boiled. Think Jackie Brown or Kill Bill. Women exacting revenge, slitting throats, firing shotguns. The title piece Shotgun Bastards features a woman shooting her way through a mob to rescue her captured twin brother who has vital information. She Broke Gods was about a woman on a mission to save all the girls trapped by a sex slave gang. She pretends to be a victim then proceeds to slaughter the gang. The two are the most action pack of the entire book. I would love to see these as movies.
Part four is more randomness, probably sketches and ideas and more monsters. Wolf & Fox is a zombie apocalypse scenario that left me wondering whether Wolf and Fox were humans or anthropomorphic animals (I wouldn’t be surprise if they were animals standing on two feet/paws). I was also shipping them but I guess it wasn’t that kind of story. They Fight Crime is a fantasy story vaguely inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk where magic-welders Coy and Danay fight skreaks with magic beans. What skreaks are, I don’t know. Spark Joy was about a women who was so meh about life but found a way to bring the spark back, literally. This is something most bored potatoes (me) can relate to minus the pyrokinetics. Noise is about that weird neighbor you never know would go berserk any minute so you have to treat nicely. Probably the weakest story of all.
Lastly, we have the sci-fi/fantasy part full of vampires, rebels and space-pirates. Past Prologue has a Ghost in the Shell feel to it where a woman with cybernetic body parts is hiding from the Imperator. This one has a nice twist in the end. I would like to see this as a full-length novel because the futuristic setting and the world are really interesting. Discount Skin Ticket and Seven Days of Fang are stories about darkest desires and the price people are willing to pay for them. The desires are the usual desires (immortality and some such) so I’m hoping someday we can have stories where the darkest desires involves something like secretly wanting to be Rainbow Brite. Soulmates and My Bloody Valentines are dark and compelling romance stories the author created for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group and plans to expand someday. I hope she does.
Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories is my first Andrea Speed book. I think it’s a good introduction to her work. The stories grab me from the start and majority of them worked.There is a streak of dark humor in some and others are just plain dark which I really liked. If you have a short attention span like me or want an in-between book for those 1000+ page door stoppers, this is a good book to dip into for some bite-size fun.
I received a copy of Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories from Less Than Three Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.T.S. Eliot