Publication Date: February 18, 2015
Then Fredrick Ran by Nicholas M. Bugden is a collection of 14 stories with a futuristic theme. Topics range from a man teaching a machine to play chess, to a young woman breaking things off with a longtime love, to a sleep study that explores dreams.
The author, Nicholas M. Bugden, gave me a copy of this collection of short stories in exchange for my review.
Then Fredrick Ran is a collection of short stories with a worldview. Set at an undetermined point in the future, the message of the stories shines a light on our own existence.
In the eponymous opening story, a man lives his life by rote. He’s plugged into his customer service job, has lunch on varying shifts and ordering the same meal from the same place. Even his downtime is routine. He picks up women in a club and finds very little diversity in the encounters so that his life completely lacks a sense of the momentous. It takes one encounter out of the ordinary to point out the unseemly undertone of his routine — the agony he might find thinking about the world around him and not just on his narrow track. The subtle elegance of the message is perfectly couched in Bugden’s clean and direct style.
A Stroke of Genius is a rather more complex tale. A doctor is working under contract to her own government on something that might have positive results but could also be deadly on a large scale. In short order, Bugden convinces us of Dr. Merissa Row’s second thoughts of the consequences of her genius and her clear plan to evade those consequences if possible. The character of the doctor could easily have read as trite or a crusader, but instead, Bugden writes her as a convincing rebel. The clever plot device employed is a delight to read.
What’s There to Say About our Dear Friend Henry Mann is perhaps my favorite short story of those in the anthology. It is short, direct and to the point. A man who has been unkind in his life has a replica of himself made and stages a funeral so that he can see what all of his friends really thought of him. Things don’t go as the reader might expect and the story is written with such elegance that the final blow is shattering to the reader leading us to contemplate what our true friends might say about us in final reflection.
There is not a single story in Then Fredrick Ran that felt out of place. The topics were diverse as were the social issues addressed. Some stories were whimsical while some sad but all earned a pause to think about what I’d read when finished. Simply written the stories were engaging and well edited. There is an Orwellian nature to the work conveyed with a delicate hand.
If you’re a fan of short stories, pick up Then Fredrick Ran today. The collection of short stories can hold its own with the finest literary fiction.
You can read an excerpt and buy Then Fredrick Ran by Nicholas M. Bugden on