Review: The Is Shop

is shop

Dung Beetle

One dung Beetle
(1 out of 4 rating)

This story is based on an interesting premise: a retail store that will acquire anything a customer desires. Unfortunately, beyond that concept, there’s nothing worth reading. The story is also another example of a “sci-fi” story without any “sci” in it.

There are some sentences that seem odd if you’re not British; are you familiar with the verb “to donkey stone”? When is the last time you insulted someone by calling them a “peasant”?

The Spoiler Dragon

The first problem with the story is that the things the customers want are just dumb. The author obviously thinks these things are funny, but they aren’t. (I know British people have a different sense of humor, but I watched Monty Python when I was younger, and I think I’d be amused if the story were actually funny.) One customer wants a candelabra because his light bulb has burned out; another wants a hygrometer because he thinks humidity is contributing to his wife’s bad breath. The idea of an “anything store” could have worked if there had been interesting stories about why the customers needed things, or if there’d been interesting stories about acquiring those things, but both are missing here.

There is also a strange sub-plot: every customer ends up purchasing the previous customer’s requested item, and not returning for his own item. I have no idea why this might be considered interesting or significant.

The Spoiler DragonThe Spoiler DragonThe Spoiler Dragon

The ending is just complete nonsense. Two characters get into a recursive conversation, repeating the same sentences back to each other; it’s like an even less funny version of “who’s on first”. This conversation causes a “black whole” (I’m not sure if that’s a mistake or intentional) to form on the site of the store. I don’t understand why two people who are smart enough to speak a language couldn’t just stop themselves if they were caught in a recursive situation; I also don’t know of any astronomical theory which indicates their failure to do so would cause a black hole to form. The story’s black hole/whole does not expand or pull anything in, and the police block off the area.

The author says that his original idea for ending the story was just to repeat the same two lines of conversation for hundreds of pages. I suppose the ending he chose was a slight improvement.


  1. This does seem like it ought to be a promising story, but I suppose the internal logic has to be extremely rigorous, especially if every customer buying the previous one’s things is to be sustainable without being too contrived.

    1. The shop owner basically just showed each customer that the item in stock was very “nice” and that was convincing enough to make the sale. There was no explanation as to why the customer didn’t then return for their own item the next day.

  2. I guess, there should have been half a Dung Beetle, if that were possible. That does sound bizarre.

    1. Maybe at some point I’ll have to do a “Radioactive Dung Beetle” award for the absolute worst story. I don’t think this one would win.

  3. hello planetary defense command its dennis the vizsla dog hay hmm it sownds like this shopkeeper mite be an ekstreemly poor relayshun of the infamus shopkeeper mr gaunt of needful things fame!!! and if i wanted to heer two lines of konversayshung reepeeted that offen i wood ask dada to put telefone seen from joe versus the volcano on infinite reepeet!!! perhaps yoo shud hav awared this storry the dung beetles dung ball insted of the dung beetle itself!!! ha ha ok bye

    1. Dennis, congratulations on learning English as a second language. I have a canine speaker on my staff if you want to communicate in your native language, but she speaks with a Golden Retriever accent.

  4. […] – unlikely plot coincidence New Beginnings (Vitalis) – knock knock. who’s there? penis! The Is Shop – pointlessly random – no logic to character behavior or physical events. Whipping Star – […]

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