Empty Quiver: Tales from the Crimson Son Universe by Russ Linton (40:00)

IOD-EmptyQuiverToday we see that even one error can overcome otherwise engaging stories.

What I gleaned about the stories: The US military carried out experiments on soldiers during WWII, giving some of them superpowers. Rather than treat them with respect, the government used the soldiers and swept the liabilities under the carpet.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Kudo #1: Fine control of narrative voice

Analysis: The first story is told in a mix of informal recollections, interviews, reports, and current events, each with a different narrator. Despite this mix of both styles and dialects, the entire piece fits together with neither tripping hazards at the seams nor confusion in description.

The remaining stories, having a less complex format, are even more accessible.

Kudo #2: Integration of world-building

Analysis: Most of the differences between the world of this collection and the real world are shown to the reader using examples with the general case being left to the reader to deduce. That information that is technically told to the reader is presented in a situation in which the narrator might naturally give a description; for example, as part of a digression to explain to someone why they acted as they did.

WTF #1: Stray characters

Analysis: Some distance into the collection I found:

The excitement always waned when she asked for something “easy”0.’

I initially thought the quotation mark was misplaced; but almost at the same moment I realised it was a zero rather than an O, so it could be an extra character rather than a punctuation issue. Having paused for long enough to be aware I wasn’t immersed, I moved on.

WTF #2: Missing text

Analysis: A considerable distance in, I encountered:

So carefully clipped and kept flat with crisp edges, they felt like a.’

Drawn along at a good pace by the smoothness of prose, hitting the end of this sentence left me feeling like a cartoon character: by the time I realised what was wrong I was already off the end; at which point I plummeted into confusion.

Note from Jeff: I read this one too, just for fun. And what I loved about Crimson Son continues here. Linton takes the horror of the atomic bomb’s emergence in WWII and transforms it into the emergence of laboratory-grown supersoldiers — but with similarly horrific consequences and the same desperate global struggle to cram the genie back into the bottle afterward. It gives the entire story world a grittiness and gravitas that we rarely see in superhero stories. And that darkness makes it chilling.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

King Callie, by B. Lynch (7:37)
The Park, by Voss Foster (21:13)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction. He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.