Quantum Convention

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

As with every collection of short stories in general, some in this book were spot on, and some didn’t touch me much.

I enjoyed how relatable the stories were: the characters, their actions, their past, their motivations were altogether very human and understandable. It was easy to empathize with Lyssa’s fear of ending up left all alone, or with Owen’s desperate desire to go out and meet other people. Their themes were food for thought, the kind that will lead to introspection and wondering, and there would be a lot to say about those afterwards as well.

On the other hand, most of the stories left me with a feeling of lack, as if something undefinable was missing from them. I think I was expecting more of a punchline, something to let me know that the narrative was over and that now I could think about it on my own, but instead of that, it seemed that the thread was cut short, almost as if someone had stopped talking in the middle of a sentence. Why I wouldn’t mind filling in the blanks, and while I do enjoy open endings, whatever the length of the story, here, it was more jarring than thought-provoking. Almost every time, I got thrown out of my reading, wondering “and…?” As if the author didn't know how to wrap it up, and so just left it there. Or maybe there was something to get, and I just didn't get it. Hard to tell.

Conclusion: A quick and enjoyable read, but one that felt unachieved to me (eight times).
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An original and creative series of short stories fusions in a mix of parallel universes, prismatic characters with a modern narrative.
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Eric Schlich's newly published collection of eight short-stories, Quantum Convention is a scientific thought experiment populated by characters of all ages and stages, contemplating reality and the various alternatives it offers.
Quantum Convention is the title story and in this narrative, we meet Colin, husband to Jane who is eager for them to start a family although the stress of trying to conceive and the threat it all poses to Colin’s other artistic dreams has him contemplating the decisions he’s made that have led him to this life and the quantum possibilities he has turned down. In fact, Colin isn't sure where he is now on the spectrum of "For Better or For Worse".  This story was a nerdy look at romance and the characteristics that define a person and what he/she is when separated them from those phases of identity.
The Keener revolves around a group of orphan girls who are paid to cry at funerals, but their own desperate circumstances invites the reader to also lament for them. Their keeper tells them a story of a disfigured woman whose healing is a blessing and a curse where to enjoy the miraculous blessing also invokes the wrath of the curse so the story is a cynical exploration of the duality of those experiences. 
The third story Not Nobody, Not Nohow, is a juxtaposition of actors in real life versus their roles and the effect of make believe in real life..In this one, a woman leaves her teaching job to be become an actress and plays the part of the witch in the Wizard of Oz and tries to explain to her son how movies work. There is also a young boy who plays dress up and is ridiculed for it because he wears a female costume. Meanwhile, we see the hierarchical differences in how she is treated versus how the young starlet Judy Garland is treated, but also it compares the normalcy of Maggie’s life versus the compromises Judy has to make for her fame.
Lucidity describes one man's wistful dreams of the life he no longer has now that he has lost his son and wife. He attends a dream conference but instead of trying to understand how to stop his recurring dreams, he seems to want to lose himself in them, and he writes them down to extend their range into his waking hours as well.
The main character in Night Thieves is Lyssa, a ten year old pastor's daughter who struggles to reconcile her own questions about God with the religion with the doctrines espoused by her father, her brother's explanation of the choice between good and evil, and the anticipated rapture and what it will mean for those who leave and those left behind. Here, Schlich offers a juvenile discourse on a very adult theme by showing how discussions that often leaves adults quaking, impacts children as well.
Merlin Lives Next Door is probably the story that delves most into the otherworld with the neighbor veering in and out of the time and space limitations of the story which resembles the title story in that there are multiple versions of the same character, this time, each of the manifestations reflects a different time, showing the main character his past and inevitable future. Something about this story is at once disturbing and calming, as the main character interacts with the past that he has held on to and the future he cannot change.
Journal of a Cyclops is the first person narrative of Owen James Pollup, a thirteen year old boy who was born with a single eye in the middle of his forehead, recording his life at his doctor's request. It is a weirdly voyeuristic look at the boy's disability and his struggle to escape being different, alternating between hiding himself and wanting to share the same experiences. The big question in this story is whether the people who keep him shielded or those who expose him, which one is villain.
Lipless is about an almost 30-year-old newlywed couple, Kara and her husband Marcus, who gets invited to the wedding of the college roommate he was once in love with. The invitation is an unwelcome reminder of Marcus' earlier projections of his life and how his relationship with Devin, the former roommate, also created an alternate identity that wouldn't otherwise have happened. In many ways, this story is very similar to the title story but with a different resolution, which just goes to reinforce the idea of quantum possibilities - how many ways can you use the same story setup but end it on a different note?
Overall, the stories in Quantum Convention delve into powerful themes and the author achieves a pretty cynical look at the complexities of human relationships, and the struggle to be one thing or another, how we often have to choose an identity even when we are forced to suppress other parts of our psyche. With eight short stories that were easy to read but also layered enough to provoke discussion, I recommend this for fans who like a little science or psychology in their fiction, especially those who are already interested in multiverse theories. 
Title: Quantum Convention
Author: Eric Schlich
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Publication Date: November 15, 2018

I read an electronic copy of Quantum Convention courtesy of Netgalley. Thank you to the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to try out this galley proof. All opinions expressed above are my own.
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Containing eight science fiction/fantasy stories, Quantum Convention has a story for all tastes.

A man sneaks away from his wife to a Quantum Convention where he meets himself from 100 different universes each where a single different decision was made. An orphan finds a career as a professional mourner. A young boy discovers his true self in his love of dressing up as Dorothy while the Wicked Witch loses herself in her role. A group meeting whose goal is to make better decisions in dreams. A young girl’s unique relationship with Jesus. A man realizes his neighbor is Merlin the Wizard. A one-eyed boy finds a friend. The marriage of a college roommate makes a man question his sexuality.

Quantum Convention is more literary fiction than the advertised science fiction/fantasy. However, each story makes you reflect long after the story is complete. I had my favorites as will you. Quantum Convention is good choice when you are feeling philosophical. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4!

Thanks to University of North Texas Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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1. I love this cover.
2. I love these stories.

Sci-fi short stories, all with a rather sad end. What more could I want?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I should have read the entire description. I had no idea that this book comprised of eight short stories:
Quantum Convention
The Keener
Not Nobody, Not Nohow
Night Thieves
Merlin Lives Next Door
Journal of a Cyclops

I was sucked right into each story's universe. I wish each one of them was longer, but this is why I typically stay away from short stories. Honestly, they all ended a little depressing, in my opinion. But this gives you, the reader, more to think about. Not every story has a happy ending.
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3.5 Stars. A decent collection of scifi short stories.  The strongest stories are worth picking up a copy to read.  A few of the stories were slow for me, and I did struggle to finish them, so reading this took me much longer than usual.  Part of my hindered enjoyment might be explained by the giant watermark on every page of the galley ebook, which I had to squint to read around on my phone, causing a headache.  

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I found these to be wholly original, well-written stories. Some of them came to truly satisfying conclusions. The titular story was one of these. The writing made reading a quick process.
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Quantum Convention is a collection of quirky, well-written short stories that fans of sci-fi and  fantasy will particularly enjoy.

Eric Schlich does a great job working with multiple genres in this collection. The lead story, Quantum Convention, hooked me: it follows one man as he visits a parallel universe convention, hoping to find his best self. Sci-fi fans should check out this work for the premise of this story alone. Still, Schlich shows his range with the remaining stories: The Keener has a creepy, horror vibe, Journal of a Cyclops is about a young boy, born a cyclops and desperate to fit in, and Not Nobody, Not Nohow parallels a young crossdresser's coming of age story with that of actress Margaret Hamilton, best known for portraying the Wicked Witch of the West.

This is a fun, quirky collection. If there's one thing each story has in common, it's that the protagonist is either a marginalized member of society or an unusual choice for a literary hero. At their heart, these are stories about regular people who are trying to find their place in the world. Add Schlick's great writing and offbeat scenarios to these universal themes, and you get a great read in Quantum Convention.
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Quantum is exciting, quantum is attention getter, although the cover does the trick also. These short stories sounded intriguing and they were. From the eponymous first entry where a man goes to a quantum convention to meet his best happiest self (what a great concept) it starts with a bang and continues to delight. The author’s breadth of subjects and offbeat approach are absolutely winning, his characters are weirdos, weirdos you want to read about and his range is quite striking as he goes from serious drama to biographical to more speculative concepts. But there’s always a sprinkling of magic in the mix, something like kindness for the outcasts and it’s lovely to behold, because it’s nice when fiction delivers what life so often fails to. The endings every so often came across as slightly vague for my liking, but really other than that this was a delight through and through. The ARC copy provided by the publisher was considerably less of a delight and positively challenging to enjoy, but I’m glad I checked this out. Quantum Convention is unconventional in the best possible way. Thanks Netgalley.
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In the past, I've shied away from short story collections, because they often didn't keep my interest. I prefer books in which I can become invested in characters and their stories over a longer period of time. 

Nevertheless, when I read the description for Quantum Convention, I knew I had to read it, even if only for its eponymous first story, in which a man attends a convention with alternate universe versions of himself.

It's a great way to start the collection. It's well written, entertaining and I didn't see that end coming. 

It is tough for me to tell you which stories were my favorites, because there are only eight stories, it is a quick read, and I honestly enjoyed all of them. 

The writing is smooth, the stories are well differentiate, and all eight were emotionally compelling. 

If I really must pick some favorites, The Keener and Night Thieves, both of which are told from the points of view of young girls in very different situations, would be my top two.

I enjoyed Quantum Convention and highly recommend it. As a collection of short stories, it is 5/5 stars, and as compared to the books I read in general, a solid 4.5/5. Its expected date of publication is November 15, 2018.

Thank you to University of North Texas Press for providing me with an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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