April 9, 2011

Three Short Stories that Deliver, Not What If, But What will? – 5 Star Review, Where Has this Author Been?

The Human Condition, Niven buries the reader in three stories that grip from beginning to end.

I just happened to stumble on this book through Facebook. Decided for .99 cents, a download and review were not that expensive. I just have to say, this author needs some more love (marketing, that is).

So may I present:

Twilight Candleflies: 3 Tales of Speculative Fiction

Niven uses three different styles and plots to present the moral dilemmas of our times in depressing future conditions.  What unites these tales are the qualities, or lack of qualities, in the humans coping within their environment.  Let me give you some snippets to ponder:

Last School of Humanities:

Random vs. Order: have the rules changed because a world changed?  One is focused on preservation, survival and hope for the future.  Another is focused on trying to fix a mistake he created. A Loner is delighted to have a world in which he can do anything he wants, and he wants to destroy. Niven presents an effectual, yet troubling read of survival in the worst conditions imaginable, with the biggest stake – the Human Condition.

Niven introduces the world via post-war University scenery. He then effectively introduces the viewpoint of Jana. As the anxiety develops, Niven continues to develop his social commentary through the dialogue of Hero vs. Villain. The reader easily follows and becomes engaged.  Niven does an excellent job of presenting the nuances and subtleties to the quandary of human nature.  "Because if you put two equal forces on a battlefield, chaos and order, who do you think will win?"

This is Not Your Mother’s Earth:

Bill loves women.  And at 18, he’s very good at it. Lexie loves Bill, but knows that as his assistant, she can’t have him.  A love story set in the future, without the love, until it’s time to eat the Licorice. Niven, through a quickie short, questions moral codes for the equality of men and women.

This story reads like a well scripted play from The Twilight Zone. “The twenty by twenty windowless chamber contained the standard items issued to a man of eighteen: queen-sized floor cushion, toilet, set of free weights, and a bookshelf full of the latest bestsellers, novels by Paula Ryton, Julia James, Mary Higgins Clark, and Beverly Moonwater.”  A single building in the future and the New World Government set the stage for a light but metaphorically correct narrative.  The style brings to fore the human condition. "I'm a hero. They all said so. A World Hero."

Five Minutes for the World:

Life is beyond routine and mundane, when your only excitement is the Viewing, and Mate Day every 354 days.  At 40, Gates had accepted this lifestyle, until a mating with Moxy dropped some seeds in his brain.  And after the most dreaded experience on ship happened to Gates – a Bad Viewing, Moxy’s seeds sprouted into that eternal question: Is There More?

“So many beautiful ships, motoring along preplanned skyways, carrying an entire race of people who could no longer set foot on the Earth they had poisoned.” And thus we see the Hindenburg through the eyes of Gates. Gates is very human in this world of mechanics. “And each life aboard the ship sparkled brilliantly at birth, then fizzled as the invariability of existence became an overbearing reality.”  Rich scenes and Gate’s thoughts lead the reader on another path, Niven’s vision of self-discovery.


Character/Plot: 5 stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
Formatting: 5 Stars

This book rings of professional writing. The language is light, but there are non-graphic adult scenes of both sex and violence, recommend 18+.  Formatting/grammar was near perfection (think I only underlined one sentence). Recommend you download for a weekend read, or add to your Sci-Fi collection.

About the Author:

Scott's been writing in one form or another for over 25 years. His short stories have appeared in various publications, including the literary journal Pembroke Magazine. He was also a finalist in the prestigious L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

When Scott grows up, he hopes to become an astronaut. If that doesn't work out, his fallback dream is to make a living writing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you so much for your review! You have no idea how much this means to me to receive a professional review like this. My son has asked me repeatedly if I think his artwork will ever get published, so I published Twilight Candleflies to hopefully inspire him and make him realize he can do anything if he sets his mind to it. We are all smiles tonight after reading your review. Thanks again! - Scott Niven

  3. Well thanks. Should show up on Amazon by tomorrow. As to professional, I'm in training ;-). I do try to improve with each review (and its getting easier) - but the NYT bestsellers? It will be a few years before they knock on my cyber world.