Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Are You Afflicted With Dragons? by Kage Baker.
Fiction Friday: Are You Afflicted With Dragons?
Today’s short story is another reprint as we look at Are You Afflicted With Dragons? by Kage Baker, as featured in Clarkesworld, originally published in The Dragon Book. You can find it here. I tend to love goofy stories with absurd concepts and this one is no different. I wonder if anyone else has these kinds of problems? I’ve heard of rat, or cockroach, or ant infestations, but never a dragon infestation. I did read it on the title alone, as usual.
Before we begin with the actual review, I’d like to make a change to my review styles. Normally I focus on three different aspects. Plot, Character, and Writing. However, even writing certain reviews, I realize sometimes I don’t have much to say on certain parts. I’d skip character sections entirely and my writing sections are minimal unless something really stands out.
So going forward, I’m structuring them like I do my other reviews. I’ll talk about a few points of interest, things I felt were important to talk about. They’ll still contain the usual elements, Plot, Character, and Writing, but they might not include all of them. This gives me more versatility and I’m able to discuss more important details without sacrificing length. In fact, I think these reviews might be longer than before. So let me know how this new format works. I feel media reviews get a little more attention than my story reviews, but I do know that depending on the story, I get plenty of views. You guys following me are evidence of that.
Alright, enough rambling. Let’s begin.
Are YOU Afflicted With Dragons?
The story begins with Mr. Smith and his wife whose humble home suffers from a bad dragon infestation. The dangerous creatures won’t go away, so he hires an exterminator named Etterin Crankhandle comes to exterminate them. It’s a simple story, but very fun to read. The simple idea of a dragon being the equivalent of a typical pest is a fun concept and I like the whimsical charm of it all.
The dragons are apparently messy, too, being more like birds than lizard-like creatures. Perhaps these ones are more avian. I’ve always wondered how people in these fantasy worlds with mythical creatures go about their daily lives and deal with situations such as this. I can easily see a dragon infestation being a huge problem and no doubt the Terminix or Orkin (Or Suburban if you happen to be near NYC) of the fantasy worlds would have a lot of money to burn by taking care of dragons.
Not to mention it’s a unique take on their concept. Instead of massive creatures capable of leveling a small village, let’s make them like rats and have them disturb a household. I’m ashamed I haven’t come up with this idea because this is something I would like. I appreciate the originality and the fun of trying to handle these creatures.
A little too easy?
However, I do think the situation in how they handle it goes by too quick and too simple. Mr. Crankhandle comes, rounds them up, and voila, done! There wasn’t much in the ways of resistance and while it is a fun story, I’d like a little more suspense. Nothing too dramatic, perhaps one of them gets loose and wreaks havoc on the town. Or perhaps they find eggs inside and the mother comes to burn the house down. Something along those lines.
It seems to go by quick too. Afterward, we get a dinner scene at Mr. Smith’s restaurant and it calms down from there. It’s almost like a vignette, where not a lot of impact happens. I felt it would have stood out more if there were some moments of interest. Again, nothing grand, but seeing as this is a reprint (and the author is apparently deceased), it might not matter anymore.
The ending was amusing, however. I’ll reveal a tiny bit. So Mr. Crankhandle uses bait to lure them out. Not only does it make them bigger, it made them smarter as well. It’s the kind of ending that makes me grin at the inevitable misfortune and I wonder if there’s a follow up to this knowing how it ends. You read it and think “uh-oh,” like you know what’s about to happen after the book ends.
I don’t mind endings that are open-ended like this that leave you to make up the possibility of what happens next. Usually, I prefer endings that have some sort of closure, even if the possibility for the future exists. Maybe all of the dragons that were captured level the city. Or perhaps they gain the ability to speak and rule over humans.
Or maybe the dragons don’t commit evil acts at all and they try to be friendly. Again, the numerous what-if possibilities are endless and if a follow up does exist, I’d love to know. Also, the book this appeared in does intrigue me. I do love dragons, so if anyone can point me a link to where I can get a copy, that’d be wonderful.
So overall, this is a fun, but easy story. I would have loved to have seen more drama and suspense, but sometimes, a fun story is worth reading. I want to see more tales of dragons and their antics, so I’m always ready for more of them. Unlike some people, dragons never get old.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
As a reminder, my website-exclusive short story, My Cat Is A Monster, debuts this Tuesday, April 3rd. I have an announcement on Sunday, April 1st, regarding the future and upcoming stories, so be sure to follow for more updates.