The Abysmal Brutes

Short Fiction Review: Space & Grit

Welcome to our short fiction review we’re calling Space and Grit. We’re talking about two different genres of fiction in this episode. One with roots in bleak crime fiction. The other soars through the realm of the fantastic.

 Chris McGinley a writer out of Lexington, KY spins yarns mostly dealing with eastern Kentucky Appalachian culture dealing with the despair of modern troubles. These are hardscrabble kinfolk searching their worst natures for a semblance of self-worth. Some bad-tempered lawmen, conniving thieves, and the footfalls of supernatural haint mixing about the hills and holler makes for a gritty collection of crime stories in Chris McGinley’s “Coal Black”.

Coal Black by Chris McGinley

All Worlds Wayfarer IX is the Summer Issue of this stellar speculative fiction magazine. Fifteen wonderful tales of imaginative fiction. A few stories stood out for us. “Ballad of the Monsoon Seas” by Avra Margariti whose pirate Captain Kyran seeks a blessing from a priestess. An inventive playing with the storytelling form in “The Parking Level” by Victoria K. Martin. A space opera story of a Commander seeking a rare Ghost Particle that links with his past in “Ghosted” by W. E. Wertenberger.* “The Jogger” by Jenny Maloney was one of the best short stories Rob read all year. It plays with immortality and to say anything about it would give the fun of discovery away. This issue is packed with far-reaching tales well worth the price of admission.

*Full Disclosure- That Wertenberger is indeed the co-host of the Abysmal Brutes. Blatant self-promotion. So blatant.

Music: Matt Mitchell Project “This Town”

The Submission Experiment Project X Part 2

The Abysmal Brutes wrap up our Submission Experiment Project X.  Bill and Rob both submitted one of their short stories to the same magazine hoping to make it in the same issue. We toyed around with different genres and finally settled on science fiction. Bill’s story was “The Three Egg Revolution” and Rob submitted “Born Under the Unceasing Eye”. The struggle was real. Listen to the episode to find out what magazine we selected and what results we had from our efforts.


Music: “Back to Me” Matt Mitchell Project

The Spirit Of Pulp Fiction Lives Online

Are you looking for thrilling short fiction to read? That pulpy goodness that makes your pulse race? Then look no further than your nearest portal to the internet. There is a multitude of genres to read online. Westerns, crime, horror, fantasy, and sci-fi all at your fingertips and most often for free. Bill and Rob highlight a few of their favorite online fiction magazines. And please support these magazines if you can by reading the stories, purchasing merchandise, or backing their Patreon accounts. This is a labor of love for most magazines. If you love good fiction, you need to back it up with a little spiritual or financial bankrolling.


Music: “Glad You’re Gone” Matt Mitchell Project


Magazines mentioned in the episode:

The Submission Experiment Project X

One dream of ours is to have stories in the same publication together. In this episode, the Abysmal Brutes have a little debate, a tete-a-tete that will lead to a series of further episodes called the Submission Experiment. Bill and I will present some potential short fiction markets that we think we can both publish in. Out of this list of magazines or anthologies, we will choose one. This choice will remain secret and be our Project X. After our decision, in future episodes we will let you in on our process. From gathering ideas, to actually writing our stories following with submitting them to the publication. Finally, the last episode in this series will hopefully be about both of our acceptance into the same magazine.

*Recorded at an outdoor location that may or may not be a lost bird sanctuary.

Music: Matt Mitchell Project “Top of the World”

Writing Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction! Ah-ah
It'll save every one of us

Flash Fiction! Ah-ah
It's a miracle

Flash Fiction! Ah-ah
Prose of the impossible*


The Abysmal Brutes give some tips on writing flash fiction. There are a lot of flash fiction markets out there. A lot of opportunities to test yourself. You may have a short time to tell a tale but take your reader on a journey. It’s best to limit your characters. You can’t write Ocean’s Eleven instead lean more towards Ocean One. Flash fiction doesn’t require a huge investment of time to write but it does require your entire focus. And the last tip is just common sense. Read a lot of flash fiction. There are great online flash fiction publishers out there to enjoy.


*Hat tip to Queen from the 1980 space opera film Flash Gordon.              

Music: Matt Mitchell Project “Back to Me”

Examining Your Writing Identity

Are you afraid to explore the themes hidden in your fiction? Do you question your place as a writer? Welcome to the everyday life of the Abysmal Brutes. In this episode, we examine where we are at this moment as writers, do a little autopsy on our writing pattern and style then commiserate about the results. Bill is not of fan of holding a mirror up to his stories. Rob wonders if he should write in different genres or focus on a singular voice that carries over to all genres. If you have questions about your own writing identity, maybe laughing at the lad’s foibles will make you appreciate your own writing process. Come join us.

Music: Matt Mitchell Project “Glad You’re Gone”

Richard Stark’s The Score

The town of Copper Canyon is ripe for the picking and cold, methodical Parker has just the gang and plans to get away with all the loot. The Abysmal Brutes take an eye to a classic crime novel “The Score” by Richard Stark. Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake created one of the most iconic ruthless criminals in all of fiction. Bill admires Parker as someone who takes his profession seriously. Rob marvels at the pragmatic use of structure in a Parker novel. The guys take on all aspects of Parker and his associates attempt to pull off the heist of an entire town.


Music: Matt Mitchell Project “Top of the World”

Where Are The Readers?

The Abysmal Brutes take a look at how short fiction magazines cultivate readers. Is it better to offer free content? Or should readers pay for the fiction they want? How do we support all the magazines and anthologies that come out every month? Even if we bought everything we could afford, how can we read all of these great works of fiction? There are a lot of questions to mull over in building a lasting readership. We don’t have all the answers. We’re just a couple of Pop Culture loving bums doing our best to support creators in this age of non-stop story streaming venues.

Music: Matt Mitchell Project "Life in Stereo"

Slow Bear by Anthony Neil Smith

"Slow Bear" by Anthony Neil Smith is full of dark humor and vile characters. Some trying to do the right thing. Whatever that means to them. Take ex-rez cop Micah “Slow Bear” Cross, the one time he attempted to be a hero he got his damn arm shot off.  Hell if he’ll play the hero again. The Abysmal Brutes review Anthony Neil Smith’s wonderfully noir novella from Fahrenheit 13. Rob digs all the effed up characters and cinematic action. Bill wishes he could write hard-boiled prose so smoothly. We want more tales of Slow Bear to read and so will you after reading “Slow Bear”

Music: This Town by Matt Mitchell Project


TechNoir Time With Switchblade Magazine

Do you like unapologetic fiction about stolen memories, cyber- augmented guns for hire, synthetic Femme Fatales, super soldier war vets, cyborg bad betties, and finders of lost souls?  Switchblade Magazine launched a special TechNoir issue that pumps fresh neon blood into the dystopian cyberpunk genre. Editor Scotch Rutherford torqued his creative engine to make TechNoir a giant double magazine as well with an assist from brother publication Pulp Modern. These Blade Runner-esque magazines get the Abysmal Brutes seal of approval. Rob rallies everyone to support risk-taking independent and small press publications. Bill applauds the quality of fiction and the beauty of the magazine design. Check out this episode for a spoiler-free review of Switchblade Magazine TechNoir.

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