Sure, in the month between downloading these and reading them, they've disappeared from Smashwords' site. Oh well, I read 'em, might as well talk about them a little.
First thing to know is that when Mr. Allison says "Short Story," he means <i>short</i>. This is annoying when reading both stories, but for different reasons that I'll get to in a moment. They are, however, a great length for reading while sitting in uncomfortable hard plastic chairs while waiting for an elementary school musical to begin.
Still, both had juuuuuuust enough of good ol' Chalk to make you want the next novel.
<img alt="2 Stars" src="http://www.hcnewton.com/irrreader/sm2_stars.png" border="0" />
I just didn't get enough to justify Chalk's reaction at the end, not enough meat to chew on during these 12 pages. This one felt incomplete. I'd need to see more of it before I could really get a handle on it.
<img alt="3 Stars" src="http://www.hcnewton.com/irrreader/sm3_stars.png" border="0" />
Chalk's trying to track down -- or at least confirm the existence of -- a report from the 1980's showing that the NFL was fully aware of concussion (and other) risks. A report that just might be an Urban Legend -- or it could be the smoking gun to force the League to pony up the money to pay for medical care/damages to many, many current and former athletes. Sort of like the papers that demonstrated that Tobacco Executives knew about Nicotine's addictiveness long ago.
This one starts with a nice little paranoid (unless they <i>are</i> out to get you) description of the NSA's work, and sets up a need for Chalk to get some of that information. He knows how to get it, but it comes with an unusual price -- and as Chalk sets off to get what he needs to pay that price, things get interesting.
This was great, this was everything I wanted it to be. Except I wanted more. This feels like the bare bones of something -- not an entire novel, but a good setup for one. It's condensed, it's the synopsis of something -- powdered fiction, just add water. Whereas <b>Concession Cover-Up</b> felt like it was missing a lot, this was complete, it just would be better if there was more detail, more time spent with it all.
Still, glad I read it.