Review of “Universal Reality” by Michael Allen Lane

Jovak is about to enter the last keystroke that will implement drastic alterations to the software. The coding changes have been completed, and beta testing found no faults. These updates will test the versatility of the test subjects. He stretches his twenty-four arms, wiggling the twelve fingers on each and presses the button—

The coding group’s senior reality design engineer, Sehsurak, notices and walks over. He says to Jovak, “You look happy. You implemented the new changes?”

“Yes, the inhabitants won’t know what hit them.”

“They were becoming complacent. Ah, they have sensed the change.”

“I made it apparent that their new leader was not selected properly. Already, there is tension.”

Barely half a dozen paragraphs into the story, and all that occurred to me was, “Subtle.” As if I didn’t see this guy—the “new leader”— on the news every night of the week or hear his ranting nearly every time I turn on the radio, barring some natural disaster or the horror of another mass shooting, now he turns up in recreational reading. It’s like there’s no escaping the old blowhard.

My disappointment was deep enough, I all but overlooked the whimsy of the many-armed alien sitting as a keyboard as well as depictions of office politics and the glimpses of family life later on.

The rest of the tale unfolds as one might expect. There aren’t many surprises. Despite knowing where this is going—and disliking the destination—there are plenty of smile-worthy moments.

I could find no bio information for author Michael Allen Lane.

The story can be read here.


Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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