I came across this short story on twitter, and loved it. At 1500 words, most people will finish it in 5-10 minutes. Here’s the scoop.
I’ve been tweeps with Mattias Ahlvin for a while. He’s part of my writing group and we have some similar writing habits. I haven’t read too much of his stuff, between reading other stuff and writing I stay pretty occupied with other things, but this tripped my short-story radar and I had to give it a look. That said, let’s get to business.
Tim is some kind of scientist trying to fix a looming problem, save humanity, and totally failing. There’s a connection with Tim, right from the start, and a ticking clock that lets you know whatever this emergency is, it’s something major. He’s got somewhere to be, and if he doesn’t get there, the consequences will be disastrous. Even without knowing his purpose from the beginning, the reader is compelled to follow him and see where his story leads. Then it hits you, the Earth is about to get smashed up by fire from the sky.
There’s no time to wonder about whether or not you want to read the story. Your eyes will follow every word to see what happens next. Ahlvin grabs the reader and sucks them right into the action. The tension in the story reflects a tension in the readers mind that keeps you wanting to read the next paragraph and find out what happens next, and the ending has a nice twist to it.
Overall, it’s a very entertaining story, and worth a lot more than the five minutes it took me to read. I almost wish this was a full blown novella so that I could have some time to acclimate to what is happening, learn more about Tim, etc.
Stuff that tripped me up
The time line seemed stretched, I felt. Or maybe just one aspect of the time line for the antagonist. The light. It seems like the light in the sky came too early and lasted far too long. This is purely my physicist brain picking up on things that I think most readers wouldn’t care about, but when it comes to space stuff, I tend to be a stickler. Looking up and seeing an approaching disaster is one thing, but turning it into a fireball that lasts for several minutes is quite another. I find the same flaw in a lot of movies. On the whole, not a big deal, and it works for the story.
Repeated word use and typos. As this was a contest entry, I expected a 100% clean read, but I think every writer knows that such things don’t exist. That said, using the same word twice in the same paragraph is sometimes a little trippy, and when it happens twice or thrice, my inner editor fires off and starts distracting me from the story. Do we all do it? Yes. Can it be an effective technique sometimes? Definitely. But not here. It wasn’t crippling, nor were the typos, but it’s noticeable. The story is still conveyed, and that is the important thing. And it’s a good story.
I’m giving this one 4.5 stars. I’m not the type to grammar-bash an otherwise good story. I don’t read stories to take an English lesson, I read them to enjoy, and Intervention doesn’t disappoint. I would really love to see this as a final or semi-final chapter in a longer novella. Or possibly an anthology discussing the events leading to Intervention for a clearer picture. Great story Mattias, I look forward to reading more from you 🙂
You can read the story here or by clicking on the image at the top of the post.