Monday, July 10, 2017

Seven Tor Shorts Completed (Tor Short Challenge)

I don't know if there is a Tor Free Shorts Challenge, but I'm all up for dominating this fun collection of imaginative stories.  Tor Shorts have some of the most simple, but elaborate story lines spanning into a small amount of pages. I'm embarking on my journey to conquer these beautiful stories.The best thing is that these stories are free! FREE! Something so awesome being free is just an absolute treasure trove. These stories are short and can usually be read within 5-30 minutes and that's such an awesome thing!  If you are interested in taking on the Tor collection, let me know!
So far I've read these stories:
    Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski- 5 stars because this story is set in the Winner's Curse world with an excellent fairy tale story.
    The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because I love Bardugo and this story was A+.
    The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because it's beautiful. 
    Excerpts from a Film by A.C. Wise- 5 stars because it's full of ghosts, old Hollywood starlets, and beautiful writing.
     All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers- 5 stars because it's a stunning magical realism story.
    Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Glass- 4.5 stars because the story's transitions were beautifully done, but I wanted more.  
    Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo- 4.25 stars because it's beautiful, but something felt missing. I did love the ending!
    Ponies by Kij Johnson- 4 stars because it was super creepy.
    Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes- 3 stars because it was sick and creepy, but I wanted more.
    The Log Goblin by Brian Staveley- 3 stars because it's a simple story.
   Friedrich the Snow Man by Lewis Shiner- 2.5 stars because it was funny, but nothing special. 
   Ecdysis by Julianna Baggott- 1.5 stars because I was confused by the story line, but appreciated the author's attempt.
   Orphan Pirates of the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers- 1.5 stars because it was weird and not in a good way.
    meat + drink by Daniel Polansky- 1.25 stars because the pacing was choppy and the story wasn't doing it for me.
    The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel- 1 star because I absolutely hated this story and was lost the whole time.

I have seven Tor shorts that I've devoured since April and I've come across some really interesting ones that you should check out if you love short stories.

Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott

4 stars

Patient Zero woke up the sound of music one day from her past. She began to experience the world in two times- the past and the present. This phenomena is known as mental diplopia, but when they tested Patient Zero's blood they didn't expect to see a virus strain. They didn't expect this to be the start of the apocalypse. This is a very beautiful story. It's quite harrowing. It left me feeling hopeful, empty, and nostalgic all at once. Baggott's writing really flows in this short story and I liked the interwoven reflections of philosophy and childhood games such as butterfly catching. The butterfly catching sequence was probably my favorite section of this story.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

The main female character is unnamed, but I still feel connected to the character. I did like how the romantic interest, Oliver, was named and we experienced the evolution and the decline of their relationship as the fear of the monsters goes on. It's a very interesting character study.

Character Scale: 3.5

I highly recommend checking this Tor Short out. It's simple, but it stays with you. There is a lot to reflect on while reading and after reading. That alone makes this story stand out.

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover, especially since it depicts my favorite section in the story.
34845675Dark Warm Heart by Rich Larson
2 stars
This is a story that I'm not sure how to describe. It's quite unsettling. A wife's husband comes back home after surviving frostbite and he becomes obsessed with transcripts that could lead him to understanding something about himself. It's a very a strange story and I wish that there had been more expansion upon the overall explanations. I can't really digest my thoughts on this without talking about the ending, so don't click the spoiler tag unless you have read or don't care about spoilers. I did enjoy that the transformation was that of a Wendigo. I remember the creature from Supernatural and it remains to be one of my favorite episodes. I also liked the ending and the implications that it held with a pregnancy and a second transformation. I do think this story would have improved if it had expanded further and didn't end abruptly. Also seeing product placement for CUTCO a product I used to sale is a little weird.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Character Scale: 1.5

Plotastic Scale: 2.25

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It's dark, creepy and stays true to the Tor illustration style.
Sweetlings by Lucy Taylor

4.25 stars

This is a dark story. It is an uncomfortable tale about a settlement near the East Coast after the world has ended. Humans are not the dominate species anymore and generations have passed since the end. Mir lives in a world where trilobites are bigger than before. Old Four Legs have started to evolve onto land and hunt human prey. Shocking of all is the evolution of humans. The ending of this story is bleak and shows that sometimes evolution may not be as a great for the human race as we hope it will be in the future.

I was really surprised by the content of this story. It's starts out slow and meanders, but as the story progresses it feels very unsettling. It feels as though I'm watching creatures that I shouldn't be. It's disturbing, but also fascinating. Taylor has a great writing style that alludes to where this story will go from the very beginning. It's a well-done short story that I highly recommend checking out.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

We have three main characters: Mir, her father, and Jersey. Mir is a character who is very unreliable because she doesn't disclose anything until it is too late and must be told in the story. It makes for a very interesting format. Her father is obsessed with evolution and it takes a dark turn. The scene at the end chilled my bones and I was waiting for her to start chomping on her like she was a trilobite. That didn't happen, but it was still a very dark scene. Jersey is the boy closest to her age on the settlement and it is understood that they will produce offspring together. I find this to be very interesting that (view spoiler)

Character Scale: 4.5

Overall, I think this a Tor short worth reading. It's very bleak and doesn't offer much to hope for humanity, but it's a good story.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I absolutely love this cover. Tor shorts have the best covers.
The Awakening of Insects by Bobby Sun
This is a short story, but the writing felt disconnected, the dialogue was forced, and I quickly lost interest in the story. I'm going to find better Tor shorts to read that won't make me feel bored while reading.

Cover Thoughts: It's pretty.
Hexagrammaton by Hanus Seiner

1.75 stars
I have no clue how to describe this story. There seems to be space, aliens, and a revolution. There's also a virus and cryptology. I have no clue what happened or what was going on. The writing was very well done and was the reason I kept reading, but the writing is also a hindrance for this story because it moves along with no cohesive flow and the plot is flying out the window- it's all over the place. Anyway, if you like scifi, you'll probably like this. It's decent, but I have no clue what happened.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1

Cover Thoughts: The cover is pretty, but it's not my favorite of the Tor shorts.
 The White-Throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu

1.25 stars

This story follows a woman who doesn't seem to have a place. She hits a bird while driving and brings it to the Kingston Ornithology Museum. She ends up helping a worker there and learns how to preserve birds. Of course, there is a slight fantasy twist because this a Tor short, but this is a very idle story. There isn't much plot or really any purpose to the story. I don't mind stories or novels that have no purpose or message to send, but this was dreary. Not dreary in a sorrowful, haunting story kind of way, but dreary in the sense of heavy-lidded eyes and boredom closing in. I didn't particularly care for this Tor short, but I'm sure it will appeal to many. This isn't a spoiler, but just my own thoughts on where I wish the story had gone. I got the feeling that Winona was a detached sociopath and I'm kind of disappointed that she wasn't. She seemed to enjoy skinning birds too much and the "twist" just didn't really fit with how she was caring out her life.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1.5

Cover Thoughts: This is gorgeous. I'd love to have a print of the best Tor covers because they have so many beautiful ones.
I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)? by Neil Gaiman

5 stars
"We had fun in those days, carnage and destruction, sacrifice and damnation, ichor and slime and ooze, and foul and nameless games. Food and fun. It was one long party, and everybody loved it except those who found themselves impaled on wooden stakes between a chunk of cheese and pineapple."

I can't say that I'm a fan of Lovecraft. I like him and I've read more than ten of his short stories, but my tastes range from strong dislike to really enjoy. The only story by him that I've absolutely loved and gave a full 5 star rating to was The Colour Out of Space (which is alluded to in this story). However, I do really like Lovecrafts mythos and concepts, even if when I explain them out loud I can't keep a straight because they sound ludicrous. This is good fun. It's portrays exactly how I feel about Lovecraft. I appreciate his intellect and his world-building, but you can't help but poking fun of it. Gaiman does an excellent job of sticking to the mythos that Lovecraft has created, but also making Cthulhu a slightly humanized soul who is relaying her story to Whateley. I loved it and I laughed out loud several times. I don't recommend this to people not well-versed in the Cthulhu mythos, but if you've read a story or two by Lovecraft then you should be able to understand what is going. This is a Tor Short I definitely recommend!

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: LMAO at the painting above Cthulhu's fireplace.
Read for free here:  
Have you read any of these Tor Shorts or plan to? What are some of your favorite Tor Shorts? Let me know down below in the comments! 


  1. I don't read a lot of shorts for whatever reason but thanks for putting all of these on my radar! I'll have to check it out for sure. Wonderful post!!

    1. I hope you enjoy them, Keertana! Thanks so much! :D

  2. I don't generally read shorts, so I haven't read any of these, but now you have me really interested LOL. Some of these sound really neat! And I'm a sucker for good covers, and some of those covers are really cool too LOL.

    1. Shorts are really fun and help pass the time! I hope you check some of these out!