Simon Forster’s 10 Little Stories is a collection of ten strange and mythical tales, with forays into fantasy, sci-fi and horror.
The stories have about them the feel of fairy tales–told succinctly and matter-of-factly, the magical mixed with the mundane. These are, however, anything but children’s tales. The opening story for example focusses on a chair in a torture chamber. This, along with the later “Feathers” and “Old Hands” are examples of the shorter mood pieces that establish the tone and feel of the collection.
These flash fictions are seperated by longer, story-oreintated tales, all of which share the same perverse charm. In these stories, Forster’s style is often rough around the edges. Sentences such as “Lenny knew exactly how it felt and empathised deeply with it,” and “. . . working in a drab office doing tedious, number-crunching for eight hours,” appear frequently.
In general, however, the stories are well told. Carried by concept rather than style, they are original, sometimes amusing and usually with a darker edge. “Hello?” tells the story of an apparently self-concious and communicative computer–on the surface quite a simple, light story, but even this comes with its own dark secret, its own twist.
Some of the longer pieces feel overlong, but come to a satisfying climax, and the shorter stories are quick and pleasant to read. The afterword ties all ten of the stories together, and is itself neatly poetic. The eclectic range of stories means that there should be something here for any genre fan.