Chief: A Short Story by Lyle S. Tanner

Just last year, I was of the opinion that I’m not a fan of short stories.  I was of the opinion that people can’t write a significant story and keep it short.  This was all before I tried my own hand at writing short stories in my college creative writing classes.  Now I feel like it takes a lot of talent to write a short story well.  Chief: A Tale from the Twisted Eden Sector is one of the most compelling and interesting short stories I’ve ever read.

The main character is a man named Gabe.  He’s been severely depressed lately because of the loss of his wife to a car accident.  To deal with his depression, he buries himself in his work.  What does he do?  He’s a Chief for the Freelance Department of the Syndicate, a police-like organization whose job it is to keep normal people from finding out about the existence of magic.  While at work one day, Gabe finds out about an magical object called the Phoenix Brand, a bracelet that gives its user the powers of a phoenix.  And the knowledge of this gives the new Chief a certain idea…

One of the biggest strengths of this story is the atmosphere.  It felt like an old-school noir detective story with a big supernatural focus, complete with a trip to a seedy bar looking for information.  The details of the story were very crisp in my mind as I read it, to the point where I could even see every wisp of smoke mentioned.  The story overall was very gritty and action-heavy, which added significantly to the atmosphere.

Another thing I truly loved about the story was its use of magic.  Where others just have people wielding fire like one would wield a sword, this story has a unique twist.  It seems like the people of this universe have a certain way of calling on things like fire, air, and the like and, at times, the force that they call upon may just be feeling stubborn at the moment.  It felt almost like there was a communication between the magic user and the element they call upon, which is something I’ve never encountered in a story before.  Magic isn’t a sure thing in this world.  It can go wrong, and quickly.  The magical characters of the story show a certain finesse that makes you want to explore their powers further.

The characters in this story felt very real.  Each of them, including and especially a character (who was an apparent fallen angel) who never said a word, just felt like they belonged in this world.  The main character, Gabe, was also a very complex character.  I loved that we got to see him grieving for his wife, then become a badass while interrogating a guy and fighting the main bad guy of the piece.  He was a desperate man willing to do anything and not even the very ocean itself would stand in his way.

The next two things are small nitpicks I have with the story.  They are in no way hurtful to the story, but I feel like they should be said.

This being a short story means that a lot of information has to be put forth rather quickly.  Because of this, the author is basically forced to make the assumption that the reader will be able to keep up.  While I was able to understand what was being explained to me, it still felt like I was being rushed through some important exposition in order to get to the point.  The part like this that stands out to me was when the Syndicate and its various cases were being explained early in the story.  A lot of information and ideas are told one right after the other very quickly.  It all sounded really cool and some of the information was a little lost on me since it wasn’t relevant to the story.

The second nitpick has to do with the length of the story.  It’s too short.  This is what I like to call a positive complaint.  How so?  Well, I wanted more!  I was hungry to explore this world more, to see the different monsters and magics, to follow this cop on another case.  Still, for what we got, the ending was bitter sweet and very appropriate.

In the end, this was a thoroughly enjoyable short story with lots of action and great use of magic.  The atmosphere was great and the characters felt very real for what we saw of them.  I can’t wait to read more about this world and other things from this author.  It’s only a buck and it’s only 10 pages total, so what are you waiting for?  Read it!  You won’t regret it.

Here’s a link of ways to purchase the story for your electronic reading device.


One thought on “Chief: A Short Story by Lyle S. Tanner

  1. Pingback: Reader Beware: Syndicate (Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector) by Lyle S. Tanner | Richard's Weekly Journal

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