First Lines: Explaining Chtulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories is a collection of short stories and flash fiction by Alex Shvartsman, editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies. It came to me as part of the UFO5 Kickstarter, and having read the titular story online already, I looked forward to diving in.

Like the UFO series, Shvartman’s own collection is filled with humorous stories, ranging from sci-fi space opera to time-travel funny business to fairy tale re-imaginings to more or less straight fantasy and everything in between. The quality is high throughout, and I can’t really give favorites, but the two tales poking fun at religion (“Bedtime Story on Christmas Eve, 1,000,000 AD”, which is an irreverent Christmas tale told to androidy beings in a faraway future is absolutely delightful: Jesus loved presents and parties very much. And so humans gave each other many presents, and somebody named Carol sang holiday hymns in her honor, and everyone was happy.; and “Manna from Heaven”) got a more than light chuckle out of me.

And then there was one story — “You Bet” — which reminded me of a concept that has been running through my head for a long time: Somewhere in the multi-verse there exists a bar where the archetypal, cardboard characters of bad fiction gather to blow off steam. Now that I know this story is out there, I can finally let that go.

Book read
Alex Shvartsman — Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories
First Line
I just made the deal of the year and I couldn’t wait to tell to tell grandma.