Cat’s Breakfast, edited by Juliana Rew

Cat's Breakfast, edited by Juliana Rew book coverGenre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher: Third Flatiron Publishing
Published: 2017
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Reviewer:  David L. Felts

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Cat’s Breakfast is an anthology from Third Flatiron that pays tribute to the inspiration of Kurt Vonnegut, presenting stories that seek (and mostly succeed) to emulate Vonnegut’s dark humor and skeptical–sometime cynical–world view. The anthology, edited, by Juliana Rew, presents 30 never-before-published stories.

Table of Contents

  • Spooky Action, by David A. Kilman
  • They Grow Up So Fast, by Konstantine Paradias
  • The Jim-Aaargh School of Philosophy, by Rati Mehrotra
  • Command Decision, by James Beamon
  • Hear, by Tim Jeffreys
  • Honour Killing, by Iain Hamilton McKinven
  • Talk to the Animals, by Jill Hand
  • The Pigeon Drop, by Gregg Chamberlain
  • Formica Joe, by Anne E. Johnson
  • One Is One, by Vaughan Stanger
  • Emerging Grammars, by Christopher Mark Rose
  • Picnic, With Xels, by Keyan Bowes
  • Scenes from a Post-Scarcity, Post-Death Society, by Peter Hagelslag
  • The Static Fall to a Standing Walk, by Jason Lairamore
  • Beyond the Borders of Boredom, by Ville Nummenpää
  • Snakes and Ladders, by Rekha Valliappan
  • Drop Dead Date, by August Marion
  • Monkeyline, by Jonathan Shipley
  • Quality Testing, by S. E. Foley
  • Dead Girls, Dying Girls, by James Dorr
  • The Bringers, by John J. Kennedy
  • The Confrontation Station, by Ryan Dull
  • The Edge of Toska, by Veronica Moyer
  • Violadors on the Run, by Corrie Parrish
  • 37, by Dan Koboldt
  • The Losers’ Crusade, by Neil James Hudson
  • Cyborg Shark Battle (Season 4, O’ahu Frenzy), by Benjamin C. Kinney
  • Strange Stars, by Laurence Raphael Brothers
  • iPhone 17,000, by E. E. King
  • The Service Call, by Edward Ahern

For those not familiar with Vonnegut’s work, the best comparison might be the Black Mirror anthology show, or Phillip K. Dick’s work.

Like Dick, Vonnegut dealt with themes of identity and purpose, often in a world gone mad, where the absurd was normal and the normal absurd, usually delivered with a darkish slant.

Some of the intersections the authors here deal with include politics, technology, relationships, the “meaning of life”, and more.

Although there wasn’t a stinker in the bunch, there were some stories that stood out for me more than others.

Being retired military, I found Command Decision, by James Beaman, to be near and dear to my heart, and perhaps a bit more accurate than it should be. A Private Zahn has taken two Pakistani dry cleaner owners hostage and Lieutenant Colonel James Swick (sans uniform), along with the media, arrives to determine if PTSD is a factor. Add in an interfering commanding officer and a military cover-up and you have something just as ridiculous as it is likely.

One Is One, by Vaughan Stanger, pokes some fun at Internet memes, injecting an element of the sinister as well. An interesting take on detrimental effects of the speed and overwhelming abundance of information.

Drop Dead Date, by August Marion, gives us a humorous take on the forthcoming robot apocalypse. Is one of the office workers a robot? Or just a conscientious worker who does a good job?

Anyone who’s had to deal with office politics and drama will recognize the inspiration between The Confrontation Station, by Ryan Dull. A satirical story that seems all too plausible as a corporate solution to deal with personnel conflict.

Rew delivers up another enjoyable collection well worth the investment of dollars and time.

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