L. G. Keltner — Felix Was Here — The story reminds me of the Stepford Wives. It also reminds me of the book The Invasion of Tearling, the Lily parts that I loved so much. A great short story that I can imagine being a movie or television series. 5 stars.
Sandra Cox — Rainers — This story is action, perfect tension, decent world building, brief insightful politics, and a sprinkling of romance. A liberal and a conservative working together to run things? What brilliance! 5 stars.
Sylvia Ney — WIN — Something about the story bothered me. Specifically, something about Brian’s character. Can’t put my finger on it. But to live in a world, in 2015, where the skill of reading books is almost gone– so sad! It about killed me when Navine didn’t recognize a library onsight. A very strange story. Not entirely unbelievable. 4.5 stars.
Michael Abayomi — Ground Zero — Interesting. Felt like a few minor spots could be tightened (phone began to ring — could just be phone rang). I’ve always heard it referred to as “the island of Manhattan” instead of Manhattan Island, but this is obviously a parallel universe, so I’m guessing that’s the reason for the difference. The speed Elijah managed to get out of the Empire State Building- wow. And in a hazmat suit yet! Impressive. 12 minutes. (10 minutes 36 seconds was the winning speed in the 2016 race-to-the-top in our real life universe.) 4.5 stars.
Crystal Collier — The Mirror People — Love the twist ending of Crystal’s story. Great concept all around. Very imaginative. 5 stars.
Yolanda Renée — Ever-Ton — Yolanda’s had great tension and plenty of “the feels.” (It still seems odd to me when Earth, as the name of the planet, isn’t capitalized. I guess that’s a style issue instead of a grammar rule nowadays.) 5 stars.
Cherie Reich — Folds in Life and Death — A beautiful story. Very touching and creative. 5 stars.
Hart Johnson — The Seventeen — Certainly interesting. Not my usual kind of story. It felt a little rushed, like parts were missing. Adverse effects from drug testing leading people to need to keep doing trials as the only means to support themselves, wow, that sounds scary and real. 4 stars.
Tamara Narayan — Scrying the Plane — Virtual reality with a massive multi-player interface? Minecraft? A reference to The Matrix? LOVE!!! The bus monitor hologram sounds like a great idea. Looking down at electronic devices long enough to wreck your neck… yeah, that sounds like something that’s coming if it’s not already here. 5.5 stars, out of 5, yes, because this was my favorite hands down.
Melanie Schulz — Haunted — A very different kind of story. I think it made sense in the end. Probably requires a second read-through to fully grasp the whole thing. 4.5 stars.
Average: 48 / 10 = 4.8 rounded to 5 stars.