The Future Unfolds
When I started to read 25 Perfect Days, I didn’t expect much. The collection of interconnected short stories was authored by a former MMA fighter, Mark Tullius, and uses the very common sci-fi dystopian plotline.
I was so wrong.
From the first story, Tullius’ fictional future sucked me in and kept me reading. Each of the 25 short tales unfolds a vision of the future based on modern concerns taken to their illogical extremes.
Tullius’ writing is detailed and engaging. He takes care not to insult his readers’ intelligence. New terms and concepts are revealed through the dialogue and actions of the characters, not by stopping the story and explaining things.
In the world of 25 Perfect Days, a new religion known at The Way is the only legal path, having erased the line between church and state. Eighty-eight percent of women are sterilized, and those who do become pregnant must pay thousands of dollars to the hospital or allow the church to adopt the resulting child.
Then there’s the death penalty. The first story, “Five Minutes Alone,” focuses on a family who, like all victims of a crime, are given five minutes alone with their attackers and an assortment of weapons. It’s a chilling and well-written tale—and you can sample it for free (pdf link) or watch a video of the author reading it out loud.
A book this full of detail and plot convolutions is bound to have some problems, though. The biggest is the number of characters. Around the twelfth story, it becomes a little difficult to keep track of who did what in previous chapters and who is connected to whom. A helpful list of characters with short biographies can be found on the back pages, but it contains information that could spoil small bits of the story.
Another story, titled “Fifteen,” is a great read, but would have been better left out and maybe included in a different book. The characters connect vaguely to the overall plot and other characters, but it also includes a character, Ian, who deserved more of a backstory than he received.
These minor problems are just that though: minor. It is worth a read regardless, and when I have time for leisure reading, I plan to read it again.
The 25 Perfect Days will be released in ebook format on July 2, 2013 for $2.99. If you’d prefer an officially-released hard copy, you’ll have to wait until September.
Jyllian is the former editor of the CNM Chronicle and a freelance reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @Jyllian_R.