Poppy has been an avid reader her whole life and is a fan of all things fantasy-related.
Although books and novels have been the norm in literature for centuries, short stories also have their place in entertainment and are popular for being quicker to read and digest. Those who write short stories face the challenge of delivering a fantastic tale with limited time for scene-setting or character development.
Indie fantasy author J.M.D. Reid lives in Washington state. He quit his job as a para-transit driver a few years ago to write full-time. Here is a countdown of his top five published short stories!
5. “The Plight of the Arshion: A Tale of the Storm Below”
"A mother fights for her son’s survival! Pirates have raided the Rhione’s flying ship, the Arshion. Their looting has left it damaged. The surviving crew has a day to reach a floating island."
The Arshion is one of the many flying ships in Reid's fantasy novel series, The Storm Below. Set in the same world, the characters of this gripping short story are attacked by pirates. Without a Windwarden to control the breezes and make the ship fly, the crew has just one day to reach an island on their dwindling engine before they plummet to the Storm below.
I liked this story a lot for its instant leap into action. I was drawn into a world where a Storm rages below floating skylands and people fly in the air on ships. The universe Reid created involving using wind, lightning, and other elements to work and survive, giving us a taste of the universe in his novel series.
4. “Reflections of Eternity”
"In the depths of darkness, Xella reflects across eternity. The dark god Zarketh stirs. Heljina's lullaby has fallen silent. And all Rehman can do is drink as the world hurtles towards its end. But when Rehman draws the Bedko's Blade, the foolish acolyte is tasked with saving the world.
Five hundred years earlier, the great warrior Zella marched down into Zarketh's tomb to fight the god. She never returned. Now Rehman must find the courage to walk the same, dark path as Zella. Across eternity, in the depths of the earth, the past reflects the present. What will he discover at the end?"
This short story is enticingly clever. A spin on the old sword-in-the-stone tale, a young man is chosen to walk the path a brave warrior walked five hundred years earlier. Along the way, he catches glimpses of her, and through her eyes half a century before, we see glimpses of him, too.
I found this enthralling. Almost as if time bends and means nothing in the depths of the enormous cavern, two people, different in personalities as well as generations, are sighting each other's ventures, communicating, and even starting to care for and support one another. This is a great concept that I would like to see more of. Reflections of Eternity is one of those unforgettable tales that just stays with you.
3. “Beneath the Storm”
“No one ever returns from the Storm! Kov, a young marine serving on an air ship, sails into his first battle. Below, the Storm churns with its dark anger. Despite his fear, he will his duty for his country.
The ships close. Shots are exchanged. Death swirls through the skies. The order comes: board the enemy vessel. Kov has practiced this a dozen times, swinging from ship to ship. One mistake could send him plummeting into the Storm.
Today, Kov makes that mistake. Plunging through the boiling clouds, Kov is about to learn what exists beneath the Storm. In a world of endless rain and oppressive darkness, he will have to learn how to survive. But how?”
This short story gave us the answers to what many readers of Above the Storm, the first in The Storm Below series, were asking: what is beneath the Storm? What is life like down there? How do the Wrackthar survive without the sun?
Kov is one of many fighters who are unfortunate enough to fall from his ship and fall below the boiling clouds of the ever-churning Storm. Presumed dead, no one is coming for him. When he meets a Wrackthar woman, it might, or might not, be the death of him.
I loved this glimpse of what is happening below the Storm and finding out that perhaps not everything is at it seems. In war, it's easy to imagine yourself as being on the good side and your enemy being evil, but it's almost never the case. We get a look at Wrackthar culture, how they live without the sun, and how a "skyer" could possibly survive once they've fallen.
2. “The Assassin's Remorse: A Short Story of the Jewel Machine Universe”
“What had she tried to say to him at the end? Cerena's face transformed in the last moments of her life, the fear fleeing, and a strange, calm serenity overtook her. Her lips moved, whispering three words. The assassin was forever changed.
A decade of blood stained his hands. None of his victims had ever weighed down his conscience. He was merely the tool, the living weapon wielded by his employers. His victims had begged for their lives, had cursed him with their dying breath, and stared in uncomprehending disbelief.
But none had ever been calm in their final moments. None had ever stared up at him with such serenity. Cerena's blue eyes and her final words haunted the assassin. Three simple words plunged his soul into torment. Could a heart that had long been dead and desiccated beat with remorse? Can the assassin survive against the crushing weight of his crimes?”
The Assassin's Remorse was the first story I ever read by J.M.D. Reid. A glimpse into a new universe where colors represent religion and jewels are used for power, an assassin kills a young woman, but her last three words haunt his dreams.
A short and chilling look into what remorse can do to a person, as well as an original world, this story really stuck with me and it remains one of my favorites.
1. “Time's Prison”
“Mokom and Alila are trapped in a prison of love and duty.
Alila, the first female Knight Defendant in centuries, stands at a cliff, despair filling in her heart. She is haunted by the strain of battle and the guilt of letting Mokom die.
Doomed to repeat her mistakes, Alila jumps to her death as she remembers her past and the young man that changed her life. How will Mokom and Alila escape the chains of love and duty?”
I loved the universe in this - the belief that everything in life must be balanced, for the world hovers on the tip of a knife. Time's Prison is another really clever spin on time travel. In my opinion, it is J.M.D. Reid's best story!
J.M.D. Reid continues to publish short stories and novels for fans' enjoyment and is one of my favorite indie authors out there. Which story do you think you'll check out first?
© 2019 Poppy