Short Story Review: “The Apologists” Tade Thompson


Tade Thompson’s latest story, “The Apologists“, headlines issue 266 of Britian’s longest running genre magazine, INTERZONE.  And it’s a strong opener.

What Tade Thompson does first that is both risky and interesting in that when I am introduced to the main character I am not sure I am going to like this guy. He spends his time in a bar in a ruined future London, being grumpy and dissatisfied with those around him. They don’t react they way he wants them to, nor do they seem to fill in whatever wide gap he has within him. His clear dismissal of the people around him, at first, made me feel unnerved. Who is this guy? I wondered. A killer? Some punk who needs his nose busted back into joint? Hints are dropped that this is not his real world. At first I thought it was a simulation, one in which he or anyone could fulfil their nasty little desires.  A VR world for sadists.

That made me want to hate him all the more.

Yep, I am sure. I don’t like the guy.

So far, a very risky start…

But then I realised how wrong I was, and how brilliant the opening is. It’s a great trick to play on the reader, and Tade Thompson is a master of timing; he leads you in a direction just so far, and when you reach a point where you might be tempted to break and run, he turns the table.

You see, the main character can bump into someone, and get a smile instead of a threatening look; he can solicit sex  and have the woman in question agree rather than offer him a solid put-down. Everyone is amiable, happy, smiley, so much so that it becomes even more unnerving than the guy’s attitude. Although it is a simulation, it is not the type I initially thought, nor was it for the purpose I imagined.

Without giving too much of the story away, it seems that one of the central ideas–if not the central idea–of the story is the glory of our human imperfections, how they make us who we are, how they make life interesting, exciting, worth living. Perfection, as demonstrated by the reactions of the “humans” around him, is tantamount to boredom, a slow death. What the main character wants is not a world where he can live out some dark fantasy, but a world where people actuallylive, faults and all. A world that is real, not constructed and made to seem perfect. What he is offered by the apologists of the story–although offered with good intentions–is unbearable, and nothing short of a nightmare. If we do not have our faults, we become static, uninteresting, and consequently have nothing to strive for.

“The Apologists” is a story that asks us to look at ourselves, to embrace our imperfections. And that is very different from accepting our imperfections.  If we accept our imperfections we risk never changing. If we embrace them, then we have a starting point from which to move forward, because change is the one constant we need in our lives, and one worth living for.

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Honorable Mention and Works in Progress

Happy to say that my story “Song for the Asking” has received an Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois.  You can purchase a copy of the book by clicking on the title above. Lots of great stories in these collections.

Works in Progress: I am at the halfway point on a novella, and I have two short stories in the works. I also have the notes and framework for two more novellas. I hope this becomes a very prolific year.

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Filed under Anthologies, Carmelo Rafala, Fantasy, Science fiction, SF, Speculative fiction

Again, More Love for Stories for Chip

Love comes again for Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany, this time from the good people at .

A truly great collection of stories and essays in honour of an SF legend.

I’m truly honoured that my story got a recommendation:

“I recommend “Song for the Asking” by Carmelo Rafala, a story about a man who’s converted to his oppressor’s religion, only to spend his life trying to prove he’s a true believer. There’s the very real sense that, fail or succeed, he’ll never be fully embraced by the faith he tries to embody and serve.”

Now that sets the new year off on a pretty awesome tone.

Read the full review HERE.


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Filed under Bill Campbell, Nisi Shawl, Rosarium Publishing, Samuel R Delany, Science fiction, SF, Speculative fiction

Old Year, New Year

It’s been a while since I posted. It’s been a great year in terms of reviews and meeting and getting to know some really great people, such as Bill Campbell, Geoff Ryman, Tade Thompson, Nick Wood, Zen Cho, Nisi Shawl, and many others. I also now co-edit Shattered Prism magazine with Amir Naaman. Great stories by Lavie Tidhar and others. Read it. Support it. Share it.

Also had the pleasure of being in two great anthologies: Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany, and The World and the Stars, edited by Chris Butler and published by Deborah Jay.

I will face the new year with determination to complete more short fiction, and finish a novella (under the watchful gaze of the awesome Nisi).

See you again soon.

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Filed under Bill Campbell, Carmelo Rafala, Chris Butler, Deborah Jay, Deirdre Counihan, Elizabeth Counihan, Lavie Tidhar, Nisi Shawl, SF, Speculative fiction

More Love From The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Now The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction have weighed in with a brilliant review: “But every story here shines, not with the reflected light of Samuel Delany’s own genius but with the power and conviction and sheer narrative joy of each individual writer. There’s no better tribute than that to the enduring influence and imagination of a master artist.”

Buy the book. Subscribe to the magazine.

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Filed under Anthologies, Carmelo Rafala, Rosarium Publishing, Samuel R Delany, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Starred Review for Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany

Publishers Weekly gives a starred review to Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany.

The reviewer states “33 outstanding contributions to this volume honour Samuel R. “Chip” Delany, one of science fiction’s great virtuoso talents, and his work from the past 50 years.”  Cool to be referred to as outstanding.

Well done to all the contributors.

Buy the book at AMAZON.

Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany

Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany

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