Review of “Kings of the Universe” by Chris Dean


Chancellor Dunt has called a meeting with the xenobiologist Andha to discuss a species the Imperium wiped out more than a texacycle earlier, specifically, Homo sapiens. The Imperium is the only power left. Andha doesn’t think much of Homo sapiens. They named their planet “Dirt.” Who does that? And they look like… sea sponges.

Nevertheless, Dunt is seeking Andha’s expertise. Some artifacts have recently been identified as belonging to H. sapiens. It seems they were quite the inventive bunch. Could Andha possibly figure out what these things were for? One item is of particular interest.


The meeting between Dunt and Andha, although exaggerated, read like so many meetings I’ve sat through it was scary. I don’t recall many with tentacles or eyestalks, moving around, but if I closed my eyes—

After an abrupt scene change, it’s not immediately clear was part one has to do with part two. The mystery is solved up by the time the reader reaches the last line, however.

What holds the reader’s attention is this mystery: what is this object? Why is it important, if indeed, it is important?

None of the characters comes across sympathetic, as quirky and striking as they are. The description of the room where Dunt and Andha meet is brief and off-kilter enough to alert the reader they’re not in Kansas anymore.

While the ending was not a surprise, this was a fun little tale.


According to the author’s blurb, Chris Dean travels the American West as a truck driver and adores Yellowstone, the Klamath, and anyplace the sequoias brush the sky. A Chicago native, Chris currently resides in Iowa.

This writer’s work has appeared in Bards and Sages, Page & Spine, and other places.

“Kings of the Universe” can be read here.

Title: “Kings of the Universe”
Author: Chris Dean
First published: Theme of Absence, October 2, 2020

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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