I Read Five Short Stories for The R.I.P. Challenge

A couple weeks ago I posted about my intention to read 24 stories for this year’s edition of the R.I.P. Challenge, and this is my first “report.” My original post listing the stories and where I found them may be found here. I’m using a euchre deck to randomly select the order in which I read them, and plan to do a quick summary after every five cards (equivalent to each hand in euchre,see? 🙂 ) then one for the final four cards/stories (which will correspond to the “widow” in a game of euchre). I’m rating the stories according to the rank of trump in that game:

Right Bower – 5 stars

Left Bower – 4.5 stars

Ace – 4 stars

King – 3.5 stars

Queen – 3 stars

Ten – 2.5 stars

Nine – 2 stars

(above: the first hand I was dealt for Peril of the Short Story – not a bad hand if diamonds end up being trump) 

♦J♦ The first was “Schroedinger’s Gun” by Ray Wood, which I found in a “free” tor.com anthology. (I follow them on Facebook and occasionally they post a link to download stories or collections). The premise of this one was interesting. The protagonist, a detective of the future uses a “Heisen Implant” to help her in her crime solving work. As the title of the story and the name of this implant might indicate, the implant allow her mind to hop back and forth between the infinite number of possible universes or timelines. A great idea, but my problem with the story was that the rest of this future – seemingly otherwise contemporary – world gave little indication that the technology of this device might be possible. My rating: King

♠A♠ The second story was R.M. Cooper’s “What We Kept of Charlie” from Midwestern Gothic Magazine. In spite of the intriguing title, I struggled to comprehend this one, which was quite short. Charlie has suicidal tendencies, and the narrator relates to us in journal form how this sad event and its aftermath came to pass. My rating: Queen

♦K♦ The third story was my favorite. I liked Shirley Jackson’s “Nightmare” so much I almost wrote a whole post about it. Maybe I still will. A run-of-the-mill secretary in New York is sent on a cross-town errand by her boss and finds the city caught up in a bizarre, promotional contest urging citizens to “Find ‘Miss X!‘” She slowly comes to suspect that she herself might be this Miss X. Great story with a typical Shirley Jackson feel and atmosphere. I found the ending a little perplexing, though. My rating: Left Bower

♣Q♣ The fourth story was from Grimm’s a fairy Tales – “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About The Shivers” – a title I found irresistible when coming up with my list for R.I.P. The title character does not experience terror like the rest of us, but wishes he could. After many failures, he is finally set with the task to spend a few nights in a haunted castle. I guess maybe what we learn from this tale is that what scares people differs from person to person. My rating: King

♣A♣ The fifth story was Clint Smith’s “The Jellyfish,” a bizarre sci-fi/horror blend. The protagonist, Paul, has made up his mind to do away with himself (two ‘suicide stories’ in my first five!) and hikes to a seemingly remote area to complete his task. Things initially go according to plan until a fleeing deer and then it’s pursuing hunters discover him. Add to this a mysterious “entity” (the titular – but not literal – jellyfish is also present). My rating: Ace   

What about YOU? How is your R.I.P. Challenge reading coming along?  If you’re not participating – or even if you are – you may check out what everyone else has been posting about by visiting the review site here. – Already over 120 posts this year!

R.I.P. – Peril of the Short Story


This year is the eleventh “R.I.P. Challenge” (Readers Imbibing Peril) at Stainless Steel Droppings. So… time to create another short story reading list for myself! I’m a little late getting started, but this will be my fourth year participating. Last year for the annual R.I.P. challenge I read 13 short stories, employing the “Deal Me In” approaching of assigning them to playing cards and determining the order I read them randomly via “the luck of the draw.”  This year, I’ll again be doing the “Peril of the Short Story” version of the challenge, and I’m feeling more ambitious so am reading 24 stories, assigning them to the cards in a euchre deck.  I have until 10/31 to complete the reading, so it’s very do-able.  The cards I’m using are from a new deck in my collection, the Bicycle “Celtic Myth” edition.  Pretty cool, huh? 🙂


♥9♥Ballroom Blitz” by Vernoica Schandes (from “Some of the Best From Tor.com” anthology) read 10/17

♥10♥Black Hole Sun” by Alethea Kontis & Kelli Owen (from “Dark Futures: Tales of Dystopian SF”) read 10/15

♥Q♥Blood and Fire” by Desmond Riddick (from “The End Was Not the End” anthology) read 10/8

♥K♥Blood of the Hunting Moon” by S.M. Harding (from the “Decades of Dirt” anthology) read 10/8

♥A♥How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon the Gonles” by Lond Dunstan (from “The Weird” anthology) read 10/15

♥J♥Blood Allies” by Josh Green (from “Dirtyville Rhapsodies”) read 10/15


♦9♦I Am Become Death” by Franklin Thatcher (from “Strange New Worlds II”) read 10/8

♦10♦In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness (from “Some of the Best of Tor.com”) read 10/28

♦Q♦Mastodon” by Erin Fortinberry (from “Midwestern Gothic” magazine) read 10/29

♦K♦Nightmare” by Shirley Jackson (from the “Just An Ordinary Day” collection) read 9/20

♦A♦One Eye, Two Eyes and Three Eyes” by Unknown (from “Grimm’s Fairy Tales) read 10/17

♦J♦Schroedinger’s Gun” by Ray Wood (from “Some of the Best of Tor.com”) read 9/16


♣9♣ “Scradni Vashka” by Saki (from “The Weird” anthology) read 10/15

♣10♣ “Stewwelpeter” by Glenn Hirshberg (from the collection “The Two Sams”)mread 10/16

♣Q♣ “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers” by Unknown (from “Grimm’s Fairy Tales) – read 9/23

♣K♣ “The Halls of War” by DeeDee Davies (from “The End was Not the End” anthology) read 10/15

♣A♣ “The Jellyfish” by Clint Smith (from the “Indiana Science Fiction 2012” anthology) read 9/23

♣J♣ “The Spider” by Hans Heinz Ewers (from “The Weird” anthology) read 10/28


♠9♠ “The Too Clever Fox” by Leigh Bardugo (from “Some of the Best of Tor.com”) read 10/29

♠10♠ “The Very Hot Sun in Bermuda” by Shirley Jackson (from “Just An Ordinary Day”) read 10/17

♠Q♠ “Tin Cans” by Ekaterina Sedia (from the “Haunted Legends” anthology) read 10/8

♠K♠ “Torching the Dusties” by Margaret Atwood (from the collection,”Stone Mattress”) read 10/14

♠A♠ “What We Kept of Charlie” by R.M. Cooper (from “Midwestern Gothic” magazine) read 9/19

♠J♠ “Wicked Witch for Hire” by Katherine Nabity (from “Bounded in a Nutshell”) read 10/15

I admittedly didn’t put a lot of thought into picking these, simply going through my kindle & nook apps and picking some from every applicable anthology I could find.  I did pick a few because I was familiar with the authors from prior short story challenges, but the rest I picked because the title sounded intriguing.  I also included a couple of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, of which I have a recent edition.  Of course, my old standby anthology, “The Weird,” makes a few appearances as well.  The suit assignments are random. What do you think of my selections?

Related blog posts by all the R.I.P. participants are available at the review site.  As of this posting there are already 43 for this popular challenge. So, what about you? Are YOU participating in the R.I.P. challenge this year?  Is this your first time, or, if not, how many times have you participated?

R.I.P. X – Peril of the Short Story – Updates

R.I.P. Meets Deal Me In!


I’ve completed a bunch of additional stories from my R.I.P. list and only have two to go. Here is my original post and list. Here is my last update. Some brief thoughts on the new ones I’ve finished:

♠7♠ “The Open Window” by Saki (from link at Paula Cappa’s blog) – 5 stars. Easily my favorite so far. Saki manages to pull off an amazing prank with his protagonist – and maybe even us, the reader – as the victim. Read it online at http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/OpeWin.shtml


Above: Hector Hugh Munro – a.k.a. “Saki” (I always thought he looked like Peter Lorre)

♠K♠ “The Hell Screen” by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (from “The Weird” anthology) – 3 stars. I expected a lot more from this one, as it is so highly acclaimed, but in the end I was disappointed. A half-(or more!) mad artist can only paint things that he has seen with his own eyes is commissioned by the prince to paint a vision of hell.

hell screen

Above: Not exactly the hell screen described in this story, but still quite infernal

♠J♠ “Act of Contrition” by Craig Clevenger (from The New Black anthology) – 4 stars. I didn’t like this one immediately, but I kept thinking about it and it keeps growing on me. Clevenger makes you think about just what is it that causes one to become a prophet. The New Black anthology strikes again!

♠A♠ “The Very Strange House Next Door” by Shirley Jackson (from the “Just an Ordinary Day” collection” – 4 stars. Shirley Jackson hasn’t failed me yet. This was a humorous rather than creepy story, though there are supernatural elements, narrated by a woman who claims she “can’t stand gossip” but then goes on to tell the entire story in the most gossip-y way you could imagine.

dark futures

♠3♠ “Do You Want That in Blonde, Brunette, or Auburn” by Glenn Lewis Gillette (from the Dark Futures anthology) – 3 stars. This one kind of reminded me of that twilight zone episode where a convicted man sentenced to solitary confinement on an asteroid or uninhabited planet (they must have had quite a surplus of those in that universe if they’re using them for jail cells!) and is delivered a robotic “mate” since the powers that be have decided that his solitude is “cruel and unusual.” In this story, the protagonist is The Last Man on Earth and is visited by extra-terrestrial “salesmen.”

Above: Jack Warden takes on robotic Jean Marsh in the Twilight Zone episode “The Lonely” – a classic!

atwood dancing girls

♠8♠ “The Grave of the Famous Poet” by Margaret Atwood (from “Dancing Girls and Other Stories) – 4.5 stars. A pretty strong story from one of my favorite writers. Not really a horror story but so “dark” it made me want to turn on all the lights in the house. Atwood relates the tale of what, to most, would seem to be a couple’s rather mundane existence. What lies beneath the exterior, however, are the kinds of things you might suspect of some but hope aren’t true.

How’s R.I.P. X going for you this year?

A Hoosier-Flavored R.I.P. Challenge


I’ve decided to follow the lead of my Deal Me In 2014 comrade, Randall, and participate in the ninth annual R.I.P. (“Readers Imbibing Peril”) Challenge (R.I.P. IX – hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings) this year, in a short story, mini-Deal Me In format. Randall’s initial post for his participation in the challenge may be found here.  I’ve selected thirteen short stories to read before the end of October. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll blog about them individually or in a couple summarized posts. I’ve picked three stories from known or classic authors, but the theme for the remainder of my selections is “authors with an Indiana connection.”


Here’s my list of stories for the RIP challenge. As with Deal Me In, I’ll read them in random order via the luck of the draw. Naturally, I’ll be using the spades suit to draw my cards.:-)


A. Feeders and Eaters – Neil Gaiman (“The Weird” anthology)
2. The Summer People – Shirley Jackson (“The Weird” anthology) -read 9/19
3. Axolotl – Julio Cortozar (“The Weird” anthology) – read 9/23
4. Strunke City DeRail – Murphy Edwards (Terror Train anthology )
5. Venus Rising from the Foam – James Owens (Indiana Horror 2011 anthology)
6. Crimes in Southern Indiana – Frank Bill (“Crimes in Southern Indiana” story collection) -read 9/22
7. Because You Watched – Paula Ashe (Indiana Science Fiction/Horror 2012 anthology)
8. The Hunt – Bret Nye – (Midwestern Gothic magazine volume 6)
9. The Rose Garden – James Ward Kirk (Indiana Science Fiction/Horror 2012 anthology)
10. The Hike – Brian Rosenberger (Indiana Science Fiction/Horror 2012 anthology)
J. The Old Crone and the Scarecrow – Allen Griffin (Indiana Science Fiction/Horror 2012 anthology) – read 9/20
Q. The Shadow Man of Moonspine Bridge – Matt Cowan (Indiana Science Fiction/Horror 2012 anthology) -read 9/21
K. The Boy That Created Monsters – Paul DeThroe (Indiana Horror 2011 anthology)

I’ve seen – and even met and talked to few of these writers – at various book events around town in the past year or so, and reading some more of their work should prove interesting.  Are you participating in the R.I.P. Challenge this year??