Spoiler Free Summary: A Bolt from the Blue by S.K. Gregory is the ninth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Iris is on a nature walk with her boyfriend when lightning strikes, and not the romantic kind. As literal as that lightning is, the terror it brings is that much more terrifying.
Character: Iris was one of the few characters in this anthology I could really sympathize with. The open was slower to give readers more of a connection. It’s not the best way to do it, but at least Gregory made sure the reader cared about Iris before moving on to the plot. This story has a sort of “thrown into the kettle” feeling. it doesn’t make Iris seem very competent, and it forces her to react rather than to act. However, the circumstances that force her to move feel relatable.
Exposition: This was solid. There was some internal monologue where description or action would have been better, but the story moved pretty quickly.
Worldbuilding: This story takes place on earth, and the plot sort of stops (see below) short of evolving, so there wasn’t much worldbuilding to work with. I felt frustrated because the very moment where I was hooked and interested to know what happened is the same moment the story ended. It has a cliffhanger ending that just doesn’t do it for me.
Dialogue: The dialogue was good. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever read, but you could tell the conversations were relevant and helped to reveal the characters. I’d probably say this was the author’s strongest attribute.
Description: The description was solid. I had what I needed from the scene without getting bogged down. It was sparse, which I liked, but most scifi readers wouldn’t appreciate. I liked that we got a somewhat proportional amount of scenic and character descriptors. This let the environment be every bit as real in my imagination as the characters.
Overall: My only problem with this story is honestly that it just kind of froze at what I felt was the beginning of a much better story. Short fiction doesn’t have to end in a cliffhanger, and it certainly doesn’t have to end before the characters have had any opportunity to grow or take action. The idea had a ton of merit, but just as I was about to embrace the story, it ended.
Thanks for reading