Magazine: Just a Minor Malfunction, issue #3

minor malfunctionJust a Minor Malfunction, issue #3

Short Stories

Left to Her Own Devices by James Armer.  A spaceship AI downloads its personality into a robot body, so it can explore a moon when the ship and its human passengers leave.  A fresh copy of the AI is left on the spaceship without the developed personality.

Day Worker by Andrew Lucas.  Every day, people go to the employment office and get a chip slotted into their brain.  Each chip has the knowledge to do a particular job.  Some jobs can only be done by people with mathematical aptitude, an artistic nature, etc., and some are just types of manual labor.  The main character’s first job as a teenager was heart surgeon.  One day, the main character learns he has a brain tumor.  The next day, his brain will accept a super-high-paying chip as a chip-system developer, which nobody (at least at that particular employment office) has been able to do before.  I won’t spoil how this turns out.

A Sadness Runs Through Him by Louise Sorensen.  A man keeps coming back to life after he gets killed.

Picture Perfect by Cathleen Townsend.  A very short story about a very smart phone.

Tangled Web by RC Larlham.  A brief first contact story.

Anatidaephobia by Kim Watt.  A story which is either about a crazy protagonist, or an apocalypse by rubber ducks.

Link by Paul Vincent.  A shuttle crash-lands on a planet, and the crew must signal for help.

New Student by Michael Alter.  An alien attends grade school.  The reader is supposed to think the students are human and the visitor is an alien, but it turns out the other way around.  This is one of those stories where if it were done as a film, there would be no twist at all, as the twist is completely based on the author leaving out relevant information.  It’s even worse here, because the alien children have names like Amy, Danny, and Kevin, so the author is deliberately misleading the reader on top of leaving out any physical description.  These types of stories are widely despised by readers, for good reason.

“BETTI” by Jim Melanson.  An escape pod AI helps its occupant survive, but has its own agenda.

Along for the Ride by MD Ironz.  An organ donor observes the lives of people who receive his organs.

Point of Origin by TJ Kinsella.  A space probe starts a war.

The Disappearing Cube by Michael Alter.  A scientist pulls a fast one.  This is the second story by Michael Alter, who is also the magazine’s editor.

Birdsong by Alex Emerson.  A time-travel story that takes forever to get to the point.  It could be a case study in how to avoid building reader interest up-front.  The opposite of a hook.  A needle?

This magazine’s stories were about a quarter in the four to five star range, half at three stars, and about a quarter in the one to two star range.  The editor did an above-average job of choosing other authors’ stories (this issue is in the top third of magazines I’ve reviewed), but brought down the average with his own work.  The issue’s overall rating is still high enough to warrant a second purchase, so expect a review of a second issue in 2018.

In case you missed my earlier announcement:  I’m skipping my intro stories for the rest of December’s reviews.  [The crowd cheers]  However, the intro stories will return in 2018 [The crowd lets out a disappointed “awww”] for round two, when I read additional issues of the top-performing magazines, and decide who the ultimate winner is.


  1. BETTI sounds like it could be pretty cool.

    1. If I remember correctly, it was one of the better stories in the magazine.

  2. I do like the premise of an AI duplicating itself and going on to have two separate lives. Can also imagine it being boring or confusing early on, before the two lives can be all that divergent.

    1. The split in this case came very near the end of the story. The human crew thought the planet had no value, and was eager to leave, but the AI found it fascinating and wanted to do further study.

  3. I look forward to reading more of your intros in 2018! (One guy in the crowd cheers while the rest go awww.)

  4. […] enjoyed “Day Worker” by Andrew Lucas, from Just a Minor Malfunction.  There was an interesting character aspect, when the protagonist was given the technical skills […]

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