Robo Divine by Will Hastings

four stars

robo divineAn anthology of science fiction short stories, ROBO DIVINE: Techno Tales from the Distal Axis of Tomorrow presents 21 dark, direct, and clever pieces. With stories varying in length from just about a page to more involved tales comprised of several subsections, author Will Silver Hastings (Courtland Shakespeare) creates imaginative works that are reminiscent of the classic sci-fi of The Twilight Zone, the short fiction of the great Ray Bradbury, and even video games.

Hastings style is simple and matter-of-fact, with the intelligent content delivered in a straight-forward manner. A sense of reality and believability is further conveyed by Robo Divine’s true-to-life conversations and banter, flourishes of humanity, and informed tone on technological concepts. Hastings’ writing is often sharp, and peppered with wry and subtle humor amidst the prevailing forays into pseudo-documentarian realism, high science, and occult mysticism. Although Robo Divine’s pragmatic approach is laden with evocative descriptions and dense conceptual studies, readers searching for a high-art literary experience may still feel a bit discouraged by some heavy-handed metaphors and moral statements that lack subtlety. As Hastings’ stories are largely economical and well-contained, they also may never dare to be deep or dark enough for some genre fans, while still providing expository details that add interest to the story without amounting to any resonant impact. The greatest asset of this collection is the way in which each story provokes the reader to reflection; many of the tales build and become more complex as underlying situations are revealed, and the thin fabric between our reality and the fantastic is imperceptibly shorn. With a final “twist” often yielding additional resonance, the tales in Robo Divine are sure to please fans of sturdy, relevant science fiction.

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