Malcolm Harden

Books

The Gods of the Terminal
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,250. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2010. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(1.00 from 1 review)
Mindy is just another wage-slave, working for a large bank as a technician supporting credit card terminals. Her days are filled with ignorant end users and unappreciative managers who judge her value only by how fast she ends telephone calls with customers. Little wonder then she is tempted to do something highly unethical. A very light-hearted look at modern corporate America.

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Smashwords book reviews by Malcolm Harden

  • Eye of the Witch (Detective Marcella Witch's series, book 2) on July 13, 2010

    The Epub version of this book was poorly formatted with inconsistent font sizes. This is part of a series but so far I have read just this one though I intend to read the rest. An intriguing story with all the twists expected of detective fiction along with a paranormal dimension. Some of the narration and general dialog was awkwardly phrased and didn't flow naturally but the writer has a good eye for detail. I struggled a little with the opening chapters but was very glad I was able to stay the course. Overall most enjoyable.
  • Zombie Nights on July 14, 2010

    Puzzled by the bile of some of these reviews, which was very much at variance with my experience of the book, I went back and read it again. There are always problems when you confound reader expectation. Despite the title this is not a horror story, it is more a practical guide to unlife as a zombie. The ending is deliberately abrupt, and I think unsatisfying, though I can see what the author was trying to achieve. The writer has a light breezy modern style, which won't appeal to everyone, but I found sufficient detail and description to clearly demonstrate his skill. The characters are well realized and rounded and there is gentle humor in the situations. The story line doesn't always flow freely and more might have been done with it. This story promises more than it ultimately delivers but overall this is definitely worth reading.
  • Death Ray Butterfly on July 14, 2010

    After some of the author's other works I found this disappointing. The entire story is a 1st person narrative which verges on stream of consciousness. For me this brings out the weakest aspects of the writer's style including a tendency towards short. Broken. Sentences and phrases. I found the story a real struggle to read and it took me a long time to feel comfortable with the style. Once the story develops it is captivating and the author is to be commended for experimenting even if I feel that ultimately it is not successful.
  • The Witch's Ladder (Detective Marcella Witch's series, book 1) on July 29, 2010

    After reading the second in the series I really wanted to like this book. The author has undeniable talent and can definitely tell a story but is in desperate need of a good and rigorous editor. The epub version is badly formatted, and finding more than three different sizes of font on a single page of body text can be extremely distracting for the reader. Whilst no author can be expected to find all the errors in a manuscript, - some always slip through - an unforgivable number of typographical errors made it into print including at least two occasions where the omission of a negative changes the meaning of the intended sentence entirely. At one point an additional letter in the name of the principal antagonist renders it as the Sturgeon Stalker, leading me to expect a character any moment to make a remark about how the case was very fishy. Such humor would not be untypical of the writer's style. As someone who has worked on various archaeological digs I know there is a dark humor around those who deal regularly with bodies and matters relating to death. However I found the humor in the story somewhat discordant and unconvincing. Humor in such situations needs careful and cautious handling and for me it rarely worked. Perhaps this was because I thought the characters felt more like plot devices than living breathing people despite a good effort on the part of the writer to provide detail to them. The story is engrossing, a slowly unfolding murder mystery with a paranormal dimension. The more fantastic though a tale is, the more need for realism to provide the reader some tether and here I think the author often fails. The main detective initially seems a lot less skeptical than I would expect when confronted with a group of people with psychic abilities, which deprives the reader of an opportunity for slow integration and acceptance of the people and events depicted. Though he does sometimes display disbelief it is only when it suits the author's purposes and doesn't feel like it projects a consistent world view on the part of the character. When a cynical cop is introduced later he is a shallow stereotype. Events particularly in the early chapters do not feel like they flow naturally but are visibly steered by the hand of the author. Dialog is often strained and convoluted and at times absolutely made me wince. Whilst as a pagan I appreciate the positive image of modern pagan practices which the story projects sometimes it feels too much like proselytizing rather than information arising naturally in context. All of the group have talents which would not be accepted in mainstream society and which would have once led to them being condemned for witchcraft yet they all too readily turn on the member who is a self-confessed witch. Here then is my problem with the work as a whole, it stretches credibility too far. Not in the magical aspects but the mundane. Too much is asked of the reader in submitting to the author's will. Humans feeling threatened will sometimes resort to extreme measures, as these characters do, but it is the writer's job to carry the reader with them, to make them feel the fear and pain of the characters, to show how the desperate situation forces them to overcome normal social mores and I never felt that was convincingly done. To feel for the characters one had to have a sense of them as people and for me that was never achieved. The plotline is gripping, with many a twist and red herring as befits the genre. The paranormal aspects are well used and successfully add a different flavor to the narrative which means the reader cannot easily anticipate what comes next. The author is erudite with a good power for descriptive text and when successful can really pull the reader into the story, unfortunately for me, problems with dialog and a lack of empathy with the characters counters this all too often. Taken as the story alone it is easily worth 3* however if one takes into account the problems with fonts and multitude of typographical errors all of which detracts from the overall reading experience I feel it has to be marked down lower. Whilst this book is free later ones in the series are not and I would need to be convinced they had considerably more polish than this one in order to purchase them.
  • The Lake and 16 Other Stories on July 29, 2010

    One problem with much modern fiction is self-indulgence on the part of the writer. They don't know when to prune. The majority of the stories in this collection were written for a competition and are just a hundred words long which takes serious skill to execute well. Simply providing a storyline in so few words is a challenge let alone offering enough detail to make your characters believable. This author succeeds admirably. He has a macabre sense of humor which is reflected in many of the stories and several times I chuckled aloud whilst reading it. There is a good range of standard horror themes in the collection though there did seem to be a disproportionate number dealing with cannibalism. There are also three more standard length short stories and a bonus story provided by another author. All these stories were highly readable. The style was modern and very informal with a fairly high quantity of swearing which would not be to all tastes. I however enjoyed the collection immensely and would unreservedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys horror or is interested in the craft of writing.
  • Dust on Aug. 03, 2010

    Intriguing short story which tells of the millionaire survivor of a plane crash who investigates an abandoned military base. The threat of imminent death forces him into a re-evaluation of his life and decisions made, particularly towards his family. Genre is Contemporary Sci-Fi/Horror. Text is very descriptive though some of the images jar and seem convoluted. The Ozymandias theme, in particular though critical, does not feel well integrated into the flow of the narrative. In so few words it is difficult to convey a real sense of character and as a result Stan Owens feels a little too much like a stereotypical wicked businessman, who uses violence against those who oppose him and is driven only by profit. Since the reader receives only glimpses into his life, his position as a major King-like figure, is never really established and so this diminishes the effectiveness of the Ozymandias parallels. Equally because he seems so shallow this reduces the sense of pathos of his death and how much the reader cares about it. Worth reading and full of suspense but I felt ultimately less successful than it could have been.