NO TURNING BACK is a collection of stories based on ideas gleaned from Dan Burns’s unique and interesting perspective on the world. Each story is followed by a short commentary explaining where the idea for it came from, and how it was developed – and in some cases, describing what he has done with the story since. Several of the stories are probably best describable as science fiction, though the anthology also includes a love story, “At the End of the Day,” a political speculation, “For a Few Laughs,” and one or two that simply fall under the catchall category of “literary fiction.”
These stories range widely through the genres, limited only by Burns’s imagination. Most of them are based on clever and interesting ideas, and many are developed with a skill that lets the core idea shine through beautifully. Some of them, particularly “The Pass” and the title story, are deeply haunting and emotionally powerful, while others, like “Adiós Amigo”, are pure humor. A couple of the tales, in particular “No Turning Back” and “Out of Touch,” are deft little prose-poems that leave the reader pondering imaginative possibilities for the backstories and futures of the characters involved. The author’s commentaries often serve as a helpful window on the authorial process, making them a possible resource for other budding writers.
Some of the stories do fall a bit short of the others – “An Unexpected Guest” is, for example, less a story than a wish-fulfillment fantasy of the author’s, without much plot or conflict. “Adiós Amigo”, while the core idea is amusing, is at times a bit too unkindly blatant in its mockery of the main characters, harping on their “flabby stomachs” and “foul and pungent” body odors. Some of the other stories, while well-written, feel almost incomplete. Burns has, to his credit, realized that “Letting Go” in particular needed to be expanded on, since the lead character and the story had far more to say – he could, very likely, successfully do the same with a number of these other stories, especially “Come Out, Wherever You Are,” and “The Dark Side”.
NO TURNING BACK is an anthology of stories based on ideas plucked from a fine author’s fertile and intelligent imagination. While the stories vary in quality, most of them are certainly entertaining and thought-provoking.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader