“Dragon Springs and Other Things” by Raven Oak

This is a book containing a small number of longer stories which are not quite novellas. The subject matter is always some alternate reality, whether Sci-Fi or Fantasy, and the ideas are always worth thinking about.

What the reader notices immediately is the author’s skill at jumping into the story right away, while bringing us up to speed on the setting and backstory with a minimum of distraction.

Despite this focus on immediate action, each story has a rich, cohesive magical or future setting, with mature, introspective and sympathetic characters. The first story, “Mirror Me,” is particularly good, and “The Drive to Work” — the one with the least magical setting — has the best main character.

The “Amaskan” story unfortunately  seems poorly polished, with too much material for a short story, too many disconnected pieces of action and too much introspection and explanation, and inconsistent dialect in the characters’ speech. Still, it’s a good story with plenty of action.

The title tale tickled my fancy, as the theme has particular resonance with the present social media kerfuffle about the development artificial intelligence that mimics life.

For the most part, a well-written book, entertaining and thoughtful.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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