Book Review: We’ll Watch the Sun Rise from the Bottom of the Sea

As the father of a 7-year-old, I can relate to many of the short stories in David Drazul’s sci-fi/horror collection, We’ll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea. The overarching theme to this collection is that parents are often clueless when it comes to raising their kids. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes we fail miserably. But we always try to do the right thing.

We start with “Emily’s Star.” While little Emily’s parents are renovating her room, they discover a strange point of light hovering near her ceiling. Her dad George decides to tinker with it, unleashing a sinister force none of them could imagine. I found the role reversal in this one humorous because the parents do exactly what most children would do if they found something strange in their room–they poke at it.

“Collection Notice” is part science-fiction, part political satire. A man from the future visits Senator Bartleby demanding payback for all the money Bartleby’s generation borrowed from the future. Drazul’s biting critique of both major political parties in the US–how neither one seems serious about America’s out-of-control debt–is timely, and I enjoyed this one a lot (of course, you may not like it if you disagree with Drazul). It conformed to the theme of trying to do the right thing, but failing miserably. I’m an optimist, so I like to think Republicans and Democrats thought they were helping people when they ran up the debt; the hard part now is to fix this mistake before it crushes us.

“Tile” is straight-up horror with no parenting theme. Silvio Gisardi is a tile-maker hired by a wealthy, eccentric, old man to tile a bathtub with the image of an ancient Illyrian lake god. “The Tile” is a clear homage to Lovecraft, with its evil gods and creepy mansions. My take-away? Never take a job from a wealthy, eccentric, old man who’s into ancient lake gods.

The book’s title story, “We’ll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea,” gets back to the parenting theme. While visiting an exotic hotel built forty feet beneath the South Pacific, Bryce and his wife Stephanie discover the true nature of Bryce’s family. He tries to avoid becoming like them, but the story implies that parental ties and traditions–even the ones we disagree with–are sometimes too strong to resist.

“The Recruiter” demonstrates a parental nightmare. A young teenaged boy buys a slick recruiter’s promises of glory and runs away from home to join a Holy War on Earth. While most parents don’t have to deal with their children becoming suicide bombers, the story made me ponder how I’d react if my daughter engaged in more mundane teen behavior that I knew to be self-destructive.

For me, “Maybe the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” was the most gut-wrenching. In a dystopian world where winter has mysteriously lingered, a father is forced to take his young daughter into a deserted town to scavenge for food and supplies. But his one moment of selfishness puts his daughter in terrible danger. Drazul comments in the story’s afterwords that he had originally written it with a more paranormal villan, rather than the natural threat he ended up writing. I think natural threats are more plausible and therefore more fearsome, so the story would’ve been much less powerful if Drazul had gone paranormal.

“She Cries at Midnight” combines parental instinct with a dash of horror and a whole lot of science-fiction. A mother is awakened every night when her twenty-month-old daughter cries out at exactly midnight. When the mother and father discover the truth, their attempts to protect their daughter cause a terrible misunderstanding with interstellar implications. This story was compelling because it showed what all parents would do in that situation, which makes the events all the more inevitable and tragic.

The final story, “Neptune’s Diamonds,” was about three friends who win a stake in an abandoned diamond mine in Neptune’s atmosphere. They think it’s an easy pay-day, but retrieving the diamonds turns out to be more difficult than they thought. This was the weakest of the collection for me because it was more predictable than the others; but I can still recommend it because it taught me a few things about Neptune that I never knew. And ultimately, learning something knew is why I read science-fiction.

Overall, We’ll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea was a strong collection of sci-fi/horror short stories that packs an emotional punch with deeply affecting parental themes. Highly recommended.

We’ll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea is available on Amazon. Learn more about David Drazul at

Book Review: In a Season of Dead Weather by Mark Fuller Dillon

Originally posted at the New Podler Review of Books.

Grab a comfy chair by the fire, a hot drink, and a book of good horror stories.  Those rattling shutters outside?  Just the blowing snow.  Those shadows dancing in the corner?  Fire light, nothing more.  And the whispers behind your chair are your imagination.


That’s the feeling Mark Fuller Dillon conveys throughout his short story collection In a Season of Dead Weather. In most of the stories, it was never quite clear whether the “horror” was in the narrator’s mind or if it was real. The reader was left to interpret at the end.

And that worked for me. Each Lovecraftian tale was expertly crafted, with poetic and visceral language describing characters enduring the loneliness and isolation of a long winter in the country or the city. Dillon is a Quebec native, so he’s no stranger to maddeningly endless winters (I’m a west Michigan native, so I can sympathize).

Most of the stories were quite literary and a little confusing to me, a genre reader. But their narrative styles, descriptions, and situations were so unique that I found myself eager to read on just to hear the language rather than find out what happens to the characters.

In the first story, “Lamia Dance,” a medical student takes a break from his studies – and braves the snow – to attend a film festival where see a film that brings back haunting memories from his childhood. The film’s images of violence and anatomy seemed quite erotic to the narrator. “Lamia Dance” was either a story about being pushed into a profession that the narrator did not choose for himself…or about a budding serial killer.

In “Never Noticed, Never There,” Tom Lighden sees ghastly apparitions in terrible pain on the streets of Ottawa. He is the only one who sees them, as every one else simply walks past them without a second glance. Dillon implies that society has become good at ignoring the pain of others, as we are too busy with our own lives to notice.

If you’ve ever been stuck alone in the woods during winter, you’ll understand the characters’ bleak situations in “Shadows in the Sunrise,” “The Vast Importance of the Night,” and “Who Would Remain?” Blizzards keep the narrators from civilization, they lose time, and see clawing shadows. Is it madness, ghosts, alien abductions? The reader is left to wonder if it’s all real or if winter has claimed the characters’ sanity. While the three stories had similar themes, their unique characters and situations sufficiently differentiated them.

“The Weight of Its Awareness” had a middle-aged man revisiting a seemingly deserted, walled-off home that he originally tried to explore when he was eighteen. Grotesque sculptures now decorate the gardens, and a dark presence spies him from the home’s blackened windows and infects his mind. The story seemed like an extreme version of “curiosity killed the cat.” It was the weakest of the seven stories for me; although “weak” is a relative term since even this story kept me enthralled.

The strongest story for me was “When the Echo Hates the Voice.” Paul Bertrand is a brilliant, handsome young man who’s always the life of any social gathering and constantly seeks any excuse to be around people. The reason is that he cannot stand to be alone, for that is when the voices and faces visit him. Told by a narrator observing Paul, the story suggests a struggle between two personalities: one that seeks companionship and social reward, and one that seeks to keep us isolated from each other.

As I said at the beginning, I’m a genre reader and rarely read stories just for their styles and language. Dillon’s In a Season of Dead Weather is one of those rare works that can make even a genre reader like me want to take a second look at the literary. Highly recommended.

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New short stories!

I published two short stories as ebooks back in December without announcing it to anyone, just to see what would happen. Would I get sales through sheer discovery, or would my stories sit online in undiscovered limbo?

I haven’t checked my January sales (one of my New Year’s resolutions is to only check my book sales on the last day of the month), but my December sales were a delightful surprise. Seems to validate many indie publishing theories that a unique title, interesting premise, and attention-grabbing cover do more to bring in sales than constant Facebook/Twitter blasts.

Now time for the next phase of my experiment — what kind of sales spike (if any) will I get from a blog/Facebook/Twitter blast? I’ll let you know on 1/31/12.

A Goblin Seeks a Career Change

What’s a poor goblin to do when a life of pillaging, barn burning, and general mayhem has lost its luster? Find out in this short story about Gorko, a goblin who wants to discover the world outside his Cave and Kin.

My attempt to see how well YA e-short stories sell. Verdict — I ain’t gonna get rich, but better than I expected for a short story from a no-name author who didn’t market the thing.

Kindle | Nook | Smashwords (all e-formats)

About Those Probes…

A short story with a humorous and somewhat insensitive take on alien abductions. Harry Hindman has been repeatedly abducted by aliens since he was sixteen. Now, with the end of the world approaching, he finds out just what was up with those probes…

This one is really popular with the Nook crowd. Not so much with Kindle and Smashwords readers. Do Nookers just have a sicker sense of humor than Kindlers and Smashies?

Kindle | Nook | Smashwords (all e-formats)