Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whale Meat

TITLE: Whale Meat
AUTHOR: Jeff Duntemann
GENRE: Fantasy
ISBN: none (short story)
PUBLISHER: Copperwood Press

Science fiction writer Jeff Duntemann has written a number of short stories over the years. Most of these exist only in faded copies of magazines, available (if at all) on eBay auctions. Unlike most writers, Jeff is trying something different to get these stories out, namely a “Gumball Ebook Network.” Basically, this is a simple to implement website that would allow people to buy content in small amounts for small money. I’ve been calling it a “digital jukebox;” put money in, get good stuff out.

Jeff recently took another concrete step towards developing that Gumball Network, by releasing his fantasy short story Whale Meat in e-book format on It’s Jeff’s only fantasy story (or so I recall from his email to me) and a very good read. (Full disclosure – Jeff reviewed and liked my novel The Mars Run)

First, a word about formats. Jeff is selling Whale Meat for $1. He gets 80 cents, and Lulu gets twenty. For your money, you get a zip file with the story in several formats (PDF, RTF, and a couple of others) as well as a license to store, use, read etc. the story on any electronic device “based in your household.” There’s no Digital Rights Management (DRM) overhead, just plain files.

The story itself is a fantasy, set in (then) present-day Chicago, and stars Yonnie and Mara, a pair of witches. (Back when the story was written, four “Eisenhowers” could get a dinner meal for two.) Witches are very long-lived, and economic outcasts, relying on charity and their wits. Mara is also pregnant with Yonnie’s child James, and will be for several more years. This requires a furtive lifestyle. To make matters worse, she needs whale meat, which is damned hard to find in Chicago in a cold March. As I said, it’s an interesting story, in which both witchcraft and calculus, the “mathematics of change” have critical roles to play.

Jeff tells me that the initial impetus for the story was his struggles with calculus as an undergraduate, a problem I share with the author. At any rate, I highly recommend Whale Meat and wish Jeff the best with his experiments in digital jukeboxes.

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Chris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. Chris is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.

No comments: