The Q Word and Other Short Stories by Richard Lee Byers
Posted by travizzt on July 26, 2011
The Q Word and Other Short Stories is a collection of short stories written by Richard Lee Byers. There are nine stories in total. Most of the short stories come from anthologies; Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, Blood Muse, Gamer Fantastic, Catopolis, Dante’s Disciples, Legends: Tales from the Eternal Archive #1, Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies, and an essay that appeared on the author’s website. There also is a brand new short story. Richard Lee Byers has written a number of books, mostly focused on the horror genre; Deathward, Fright Line, The Vampire’s Apprentice, Dark Fortune, Dead Time, a novel based of Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? series titled The Tale of Terrible Toys, and a co-wrote Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Tribe novel titled Children of Gaia and Uktena with Stefan Petrucha. He has two collections titled Dark Kingdoms and The Q Word: And Other Stories. He has also contributed a number of stories to other series including; a few novels in Nightmare Club (Joyride, Warlock Games, and Party Til You Drop), a few World of Darkness novels (Caravan of Shadows, Netherworld: Vampire, On a Darkling Plane, and Wraith: The Ebon Mask), a X-Men novel titled Soul Killer, and a Warhammer novel titled The Enemy Within. He’s also written a trilogy for the Scarred Lands called Dead God trilogy (Forsaken, Forsworn, and Forbidden). He has written a number of Forgotten Realms novels as well; he wrote The Shattered Mask which is a part of the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms series as well as a short story in The Halls of Stormweather, he wrote the first book in R. A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen series titled Dissolution, a stand-alone novel in The Rogues series titled The Black Bouquet, The Year of the Rogue Dragons trilogy (The Rage, The Rite, and The Ruin), a stand-alone novel in The Priest series titled Queen of the Depths, and The Haunted Lands trilogy (Unclean, Undead, and Unholy). He’s also contributed a vast amount of short stories to various anthologies. The Q Word and Other Short Stories was released in May 2011 and is only available in e-book.
“The Q Word”
Appears for the first time.
A creature of legend is being targeted by a kingdom’s best knights, but even the best of them fail in bringing down the creature. However, he spares one and asks the knight why he’s being targeted. He learns that a curse is afflicting the royal family and the only cure is his heart. But something isn’t quite right. The creature and the knight, Roger, soon realize that true evil is afoot.
1) Characters. Roger and the creature were very interesting and fun characters to read about. Roger had the usual noble knight attitude, but instead of being repetitive, he came off as enjoyable. He didn’t really stand out too much, but when he was there, you couldn’t help but like the character. But the creature really stole the story. He was just fun, mysterious, and interesting. You never really find out what he is, or even his true name. You get bits and pieces of his past that just make you want to learn more about him.
2) Fun. The story was a lot of fun. It had a lighthearted, adventure feel to it. It wasn’t comical, but somehow you always found yourself with a smile. The fight scenes were fast paced and really exciting. While the story wasn’t anything new, reading it still was a blast.
“The Q Word” is a fun story with characters that you want to know better. Roger and the creature were great. Roger was your usual valiant knight, but you just liked the character. The creature was full of mystery, just letting you know bits of pieces of what he is. At the end of the story, you really do want to read more about these two. The story itself was a lot of fun. It wasn’t anything new, idea-wise, but it was blast to read. It’s just a fun story.
“End of Life”
Appeared in Close Encounters of the Urban Kind.
Two men from the Surgeon’s General arrive at Joey’s door to ask his grandmother some questions. Hesitant that the questions may upset his grandma, Joey keeps a close eye on the two. However, the two aren’t what they appear.
1) Twist. There are two twists in this story, one is good, but the other is predictable. The good one deals with Joey while the other deals with the men. It’s not a bad twist, but it’s something that wasn’t unexpected.
1) Dark. “End of Life” is a very dark and disturbing short story. It’s not gory, but the suspense and premise of it has that dark tone. The two men asking Joey’s grandmother questions about death and how she would want to go just felt disturbing, but in a good way. This darker feeling is best seen at the end of the story, which really makes your stomach turn.
2) Joey. While reading “End of Life” you can really identify with how uneasy Joey is feeling. He comes across like your average teenager, but you can see that he really loves his grandma. You really start to root for the kid towards the end, which makes what happens all the more shocking.
“End of Life” is a good story with an identifiable main character and a darker tone, but one of its twists is predictable. The predictable twist is still fairly good, but it almost felt obvious halfway through. But without it, the story wouldn’t have the wonderfully dark and disturbing end. The suspense in the story really helps with this and makes it that much more disturbing. Joey is a very likable and identifiable character, and by the end, you really want him to succeed. That just makes the ending that much better.
“Blood and Limestone”
Appeared in Blood Muse.
Raoul helped build the cathedral that is now his prison. Soon, the church is coming to bless the building, and when that happens, Raoul will never be again to see his work again. As he tries to leave, he hears a girl’s voice chanting somewhere in the cathedral. Finding the girl, Raoul soon realizes that she’s here to exorcise the vampire, him, out.
1) Raoul. Raoul was an interesting character. He really seemed like a remorseful vampire. He comes across as a very sympathetic and tragic character. That really shows when he is talking with the girl, trying to dissuade her from exorcising him. This really adds to his character and really makes you like him.
2) Ending. The ending is was very good. It makes you sympathize more with Raoul, and puts a wonderful end to the story. Just when you think he’s going to do the wrong thing, he doesn’t and that just makes you like him more.
“Blood and Limestone” is a good story and has an interesting main character with Raoul. You really sympathize with him. He’s actions aren’t what you would think a ‘normal’ vampire would do, and those actions make you really hope he succeeds. The ending was just as good and helps round Raoul out a little more. You begin to think that he’s going to turn, but he doesn’t. It’s just a good story.
Appeared in Gamer Fantastic.
A detective is sent to track down a dying man’s grandson, in hopes of having him change his will to the family. But finding him is harder than he would thought as the kid is away in a virtual reality based LARPing world.
1) Beginning. The beginning of the story was really hard to understand what exactly was going on. Everything seemed very random and confusing. You would never expect it do be a video game/ live action roleplaying game and when that was revealed, it seemed a little odd. It mostly felt like things were just happening to happen, and that was about it.
1) Fun. The story is really fun and interesting. You never would have expected the story to be based on this concept of a live action roleplaying video game, and it worked rather well. It had this fun atmosphere to it. It was enjoyable.
“Griefer Madness” is a fun but ultimately average story with a confusing beginning. The beginning really felt like a mishmash of random things and it came off so suddenly that it was hard to really take in. The story itself was a lot of fun. The whole concept of having this video game/virtual reality/live action roleplay was a lot of fun. It made the story feel very diverse. The story itself was rather usual, aside from that.
Appeared in Catopolis.
Silent is on a mission to discover what has happened to all the black cats in the city. Using all the powers he has, he uncovers someone who he may not have the power to stop.
1) Silly. “Black” has such an incredibly silly premise that it’s hard to really take seriously. Cat lovers may like this story, but for those who can’t get past cats using magical powers and conversing with humans, it just comes off as downright silly. It’s told in such a serious manner that it just comes off even sillier.
2) Story. After getting past the silliness of the premise, the story is very run-of-the-mill. While most run-of-the-mill stories can hide it, this almost screams out average. Add that to the silly aspect and it really just becomes a boring story that you’ve more than likely read before.
1) Unique. There is one good side-effect from the silliness of “Black”, it’s very unique. It’s a story about a talking cat with magic powers fighting demons and evil. That’s not something you read about everyday. It still feels average but does have that unique aspect.
“Black” is a run-of-the-mill, silly story that just happens to have a unique idea. Having a story about a cat that can use magic and talk with humans is just silly and if you can’t get past that, it’s a hard story to really enjoy. The story seems like something that I’ve read before, but instead of being enjoyable in the familiarity, it just feels uninspired and worn. But the whole idea of a cat using magic and fighting demons, while silly, is very unique and definitely not something you see a lot of.
Appeared in Dante’s Disciples.
Crandall has been living in an office for a very long time. So long that he doesn’t even remember how he ended up there. He can’t leave, else creatures he calls the Gray Guards come and beat him. He’s trapped.
1) Pacing. “Office Space” comes off as a rather slower story. At times these slower pace makes the story slightly boring. There is a reason for the slower pace, but it felt like for the longest time nothing was really going on.
1) Suspense. Because of the slow pace, “Office Space” is a very suspenseful story. In fact, at times it feels terrifying at times. There is a definitely feeling of terror. This is a due to a wonderful build up.
2) Ending. “Office Space” has a very fitting ending. It really utilizes the suspense that was building up and leaves with a satisfying conclusion. It really goes with the whole feel of the story, and adds to Crandall’s predicament.
“Office Space” is a suspenseful and terrifying story that may have been a little slow. The slow pacing helps with the suspenseful build up, but it does make the story feel slightly boring at times. But like I said, it really helps with added the suspense. This story had me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going on and what was going to happen. The ending really uses the building suspense wonderfully and really felt like a great way to end the story.
“Things I Learned About Science From Popular Entertainment”
Appeared on the author’s website.
This isn’t necessarily a story, it’s more of an essay and it’s something that I can’t and won’t review. However, it’s an interesting look at science from a popular culture perspective and how it influenced societies concept of science. That’s all I can really say.
Appears in Legends: Tales from the Eternal Archive #1.
The world has just lost its gods and the world is in chaos. Odysseus sets out on a journey to discover what happened to the world. But how can one outsmart a being gifted with wisdom of a god?
1) Interest. “Wisdom” had a hard time keeping you interested. It’s not due to what was happening, but it didn’t really capture your attention. Things were happening, but it didn’t have that exciting feel to them. It just came across as you were being told what was going on and never really ‘experienced’ it.
1) Greek Mythology. “Wisdom” is a take on a story of Odysseus from Greek mythology. It’s a well told story, and feels like a myth. Any fans of Greek mythology would really like it, but readers should have some passing knowledge before reading it.
“Wisdom” is a decent story dealing with Greek Mythology, but it was a story that really didn’t keep you interested. The whole problem with the story is that it didn’t really keep your attention. It seemed to have a hard time keeping you interested. But if you’re a fan of Greek myths, then it probably would be hard to put down. That’s the main draw and problem with the story. If you’re not a fan of Greek myth, then you probably won’t really care for it. But if you are, you’ll like it.
“The Things That Crawl”
Appeared in Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies.
Officer Santelli comes across something odd going on after a hurricane hits Florida, deaths from snake bites have risen in the week following the storm. Normally he would write this off as coincidence, but after witnessing odd events dealing with reptiles, he’s hesitant to do that. After following up on a tip, things go from bad to worse.
1) Story. The story was a fun and exciting read. It had a lot of mystery to what was going on and that made it very interesting to try to figure everything out. It took some nice twists that you didn’t really see coming. It also had great horror atmosphere to it.
2) Horror. “The Things That Crawl” has a great horror atmosphere to it. Its got a wonderful, suspenseful build up and a nice, creepy payoff. The reader doesn’t know what’s going on or what to believe and neither does the main character. That helps the whole horror feeling to the story. Everyone is clueless and as the story continues, things are revealed to both parties. It’s a good way to tell a horror story.
“The Things That Crawl” is a very creepy story. The story itself was fun and exciting. There are some nice twists and a lot of mystery to what is actually happening. The best part of the story was the atmosphere. It was suspenseful and really carried this horror feeling to it. There’s a lot of build up to what is wrong and uses this build up wonderfully. It’s a great to end the collection.
AVERAGED COLLECTION: 4/5
The Q Word and Other Short Stories is a great collection. It has a lot of variety and a nice mix of genres. While it can be silly, it’s still fun and there really wasn’t any story that was bad. It really has something for everyone and is definitely worth checking out!
Stories to Read:
1) “The Q Word”
2) “Blood and Limestone”
3) “The Things That Crawl”