The Parasite from Proto Space (and other stories), by Brett Petersen [Review]

This book of short stories is like the fever dream of a drug-addicted surrealist artist. The Parasite story (the first) has some elements of sci-fi, but lacks characters, a coherent story, an obstacle to be overcome or a goal to be achieved, and fails to even try to explain how an insect-like parasitic organism is living on Earth, having sex with a college co-ed, and appearing at a local bar’s open mic night while the humans around it don’t seem to notice. It’s a meandering stream of bizarre consciousness. The depiction of the void-like proto space and the paradise that is post-space seem allegorical, but the point (if there is one) gets lost in the incoherent presentation. The writing is at times mesmerizing and colorful, but there’s not really a story.

The rest of the stories are similar. From the anthropomorphic Billy goat to the memory-eating slime worms to the astronauts fighting a planet-eating phenomenon, the stories are amazingly original, but fail to have enough structure, characters, plot, or point to make them enjoyable reads. Perhaps, as the host of the bar in the first story, the point is to get really high and read the passages aloud until they start to make sense. I didn’t try that, so I can’t say for sure that it won’t work.

The only saving grace here is that much of the text is well-written (making allowances for some odd formatting in the ebook copy I received). The quality of the poetry-like prose allows a reader to enjoy individual passages and get lost in the dream-like imagery. If you enjoy this kind of reading for the sake if sensory immersion, then you may find it a unique experience. If you’re expecting a traditional story (or stories) and want traditional characters, scenes, plot, action, and resolution, then you will be disappointed.

The author sent me a free copy of this book and requested an honest review.


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