Title: After Things Went Bad
Author: Renée Harrell (a pseudonym for a husband-wife writing team)
Genre: Science Fiction, post-apocalyptic
Length: 20 Pages
Overall: This is a collection of three sci-fi short stories, discussed individually below.
Even more than the distinctive voices, impeccable writing, and well-wrought characters, the dark captivating atmosphere will wrap around you and linger long after you finish reading. These two are clearly talented writers with Wicked imaginations. I believe each story has something important to say about humanity and packs a punch the reader will feel for a while.
"After Things Went Bad" follows a woman slowly making her way toward Canada in a dark post-apocalyptic future. With flashbacks to what I called (in my head) "When Things Were Going Bad."
Kat, the main character, isn't the best of people but I still rooted for her to escape the chaos that made her who she is. A distinctive voice and plenty of tension made me devour this story like I was one of its starving characters. And that's one hell of a last line.
In "At Home on Wintebury Circle" an old woman relies on a consumer-machine for friendship and conversation in a world that's falling apart.
This was probably my least favorite of the three stories (which is funny, because it's the only one that's been published) though I think I would feel differently if I had read it before the first one. I still liked it, however, and there are some images from this story playing over and over again in my head. It starts off a little slower but has some great world-building going on. It moves rapidly from "kinda sad" to horrifying in just a few pages while presenting a bleak view of a possible future America.
"Mr. Tinker" was once a man, but now serves as a bitter man's bionic (I think?) Friend in a future phony world. “I mean—there’s nothing worse than death, is there?”
This is the longest story of the three and has a slightly different feel and setting to it. It's still unsettling, but in a different way - a way that makes you feel trapped along with the main character. As with the first story, the last two lines here sent a chill through me. Somewhat reminiscent of Asimov's I, Robot stories.
My only criticism here is I would have liked just a touch more info on what exactly Mr. Tinker is and maybe what led him to this (was it to save his life or for money for his family? - it makes a difference). I don't have much more to say about this one, but it's certainly worth a read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(A note on my star system)
Recommended For: Pretty much everyone. Maybe not if you're always looking for a happy ending and/or are very easily upset.