David Gaughran has a strong grasp of languages and a refinement of prose that shows he has been doing this for awhile.
The first story is suspenseful and relatable to anyone who enjoyed exploring on his/her own before being abruptly reminded of the dangers.
The second story leaves much open to interpretation, and again, the writing itself is strong, but I walked away a bit unsatisfied.
Perhaps it is because of the nature of short stories, but both felt a bit rushed to me, or at least that they could have benefited from some padding here and there. Overall though, I enjoyed this extremely short read
I really wanted to like this book. There's a lot to like. It is humorous and well in keeping with the satirical science fiction tradition passed down by Douglas Adams and other (usually British) writers. The story is subtle where it needs to be and giggle-inducing obvious everywhere else. It is a good blend of the ridiculous and the sympathetic. What unfortunately almost ruined it for me is the intolerable amount of what I call 'cosmetic' issues. In short, the book seems to have been sloppily edited. In one paragraph, the names were mixed up, (Bud is called Jal), other times sentences showed rewriting without taking out the changed part, leaving the sentences incoherent. While I don't think this is excusable for any published work, I usually let one or two slide, sometimes things get translated into the digital format strangely. But the sheer amount of errors that would have been so easily fixed was beyond my ability to comprehend. As a story, the book was fine, a mix of Peter Jackson's 'Bad Taste' with the fat people from 'Wall-E.' If you enjoy puns and allegories, you will probably like it. The characters are not particularly complicated and people hoping for a deep cerebral experience will probably be rather disappointing. If you can get over the many grammar and diction errors, I would suggest giving it a try.
Edit: Since writing this review, I have been told these issues are being dealt with so you may not have them.
I was given an advance copy of this book, but I must say, I would have been more than willing to pay for it. I'll give you the bottom line first, in case you're the type to only read the first couple sentences of a review:
Some of the stories are better than others. A few are a bit derivative and many are very topical (*almost* to the point of being preachy), but for the most part, they were a lot of fun. Mr. Hutchings is quite fond of puns and inside-type jokes, which can be old if you don't like play on words (which I do) or are not familiar with what he is referencing (which, luckily, I was). He spins many idioms on their heads and I think what I enjoyed most was his strong use of voice and language. I was surprised by the number of poems in the work as I do not see many people who do both prose and poetry these days. I particularly enjoyed the poems based on works by HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Howard (so if nothing else, at least I know that Mr. Hutchings and I would have similar tastes). I think the author provided a good mix of humor and tragedy (frequently in the same story), and all together, this is a collection of both heavy thoughts and light ditties. My absolute favorite story was 'The Adventure of the Murdered Philanthropist,' which was not only puntastic but the kind of story I'd love to see made into a little animated short. Some of the ideas and topics are repeated, such as love (or the frustrated search thererof), fame, the poor, the misuse of power, and theology, but while these are clearly things the author considers frequently, it never reached the 'beat the dead horse' level. I can't say this collection is for everyone, but as independent titles go, I must say this has been one of my favorites.