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Publisher's Summary

Strange, haunting, bizarre, brilliant, and transcendent are some of the words that describe Visions in Light and Shadow, a collection of short stories from three-time Hugo nominee John L. Flynn.

Journey into his wondrous imagination to the last great library where a robot librarian awaits the return of its human patrons, to the planet Jupiter where strange lifeforms halt the progress of a mining platform, to a ravaged wasteland where the last survivors practice a strange ritual, to a warm, tropical beach where a creature of the night stalks its prey, to the city of tomorrow where two homeless vets struggle against an evil corporate raider, to a bizarre crime scene which baffles even the world's greatest detective, and to other shadow worlds which are filled with visionary, often-surreal intensity.

©2000, 2019 John L. Flynn (P)2019 John L. Flynn

What listeners say about Visions in Light & Shadow

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Hugo-Nominated Author & His Great Stories!

Visions in Light & Shadow is an outstanding audio book! A great one to introduce people to the exceptional writing of John L. Flynn, and definitely a gem for anyone who loves a good short story. Before Flynn started writing his best-selling Kate Dawson series of mystery/thrillers, he wrote science fiction, fantasy and horror. In fact, he was nominated four times for the Hugo Award (the Science Fiction Achievement Award), the fourth nomination having to be rescinded by Hugo administrators because the story was nominated in the wrong year. "A Gift of Verse" is included here, and you decide yourself if it didn't deserve to be included as one of the best short stories of 2003. The author's outstanding writing is also reflected in these other great short stories. Both "A Gift of Verse" and "Whom Gods Destroy" are my favorites in this collection, but almost any one of the stories deserve recognition for their exceptional story-telling abilities. Flynn is one of the best writers working today; he has great story sense, and really knows how to create interesting and very believable characters. I love Kate Dawson, his heroic homicide detective from the Kate Dawson thrillers. Just listen to the first five minutes of "Verse" or "Whom," and you'll be hooked like I was.

4 people found this helpful

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AMAZING STORIES WITH UNPREDICTABLE ENDINGS.

These are Hugo nominee’s short stories (third or fourth time.) After reading and listening it I understood why. I love all the stories and not able to say what was the best. I believe it would be excellent movies if the author will write movie scripts. I was reading the book and bought it in an audio version. Excellent work of the narrator Geoffrey Boyes. Highly recommend this book to everyone.

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Visions Audio Book Treat in my Christmas Stocking!

I've got to come clean with my husband: I peaked in my Christmas stocking, and found my favorite author's collection of short stories as an audio book. Well, I couldn't help myself! I played the audio book of Visions in Light and Shadow instead of playing Christmas songs I've heard a hundred times. John Flynn's short stories were simply incredible. Each one would have made an outstanding episode of Netflix's "Black Mirror." The first story had me in tears as Rupert explained the destruction of mankind from a killer asteroid strike, and then talked about how he, as a robot, has been so lonely. "Interfacing Rush," a tale about two homeless cyberjocks who are veterans of an earlier cyberwar struggling to live day to say, reminded me how lucky I am to have a husband and two kids and a roof over my head. "A Gift of Verse" was both chilling and sad as mob rule dictated the death of an enemy of the people, a poet, and how a little seven-year-old girl saw through the mob's hypocrisy. This was my favorite story of the bunch, but I can honestly say there wasn't a single stinker. Each story whether it was science fiction or fantasy or horror or mystery had something important to say, and did so with a lot of skill and the craft of a master writer at the top of his craft. A great book, and well worth my momentary lapse in judgement in unwrapping a Christmas present nearly a week before the holidays..

4 people found this helpful

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Christmas Arrived Early with this Great Book!

John Flynn is an exceptional writer, with a narrative style that is very likely the envy of all his competitors. That exceptional, narrative style is on display here with a handful of truly memorable short stories as Flynn hopscotches between the various genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery. Visions in Light & Shadow introduces readers to Rupert, a robot tending the last remaining library, thousands of years after man vanished off the face of the earth; the Jovians, an alien species fighting to protect their home on Jupiter from greedy developers who want to mine their world dry of a rare energy source; seven-year-old Martha Goodman who develops a "gift" of verse; the last remaining vampire on the "day after" a nuclear holocaust, and a number of other protagonists in visionary, sometimes hostile and chilling worlds of tomorrow. Pick any story from the table of contents, and listen as Geoffrey Boyes adds to the magic with his winning vocal talents. Any one of those stories would fit nicely in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone or Joe Stefano's Outer Limits. There was a time, not that long ago, when short stories ruled the marketplace, and writers like Ray Bradbury were king. Today, it seems, writers have forgotten how to write the short story, and instead channel their limited talents into telling overly-bloated tales that simply don't merit a novel. Flynn earned multiple Hugo nominations, writing short stories of incredible complexity and characterization that when he made the switch to writing novels, he has produced one bestseller after another. He still writes incredibly complex novels that are populated with richly developed characters against a highly-detailed background. He spent the time writing short, so that he could write write exceptional novels. Thank you, Audible, for publishing this audio book, and giving us a look behind the scenes of one of today's best writers.

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Incredible Imagery! Amazing Metaphors!

I was looking for a short story collection to listen to on audio books because my job is such that I make a lot of stops throughout the day. Short stories, by their very nature, are short, and I didn’t want to get sucked into a novel where I could potentially loose track of where I was in the story. I found John Flynn’s Visions in Shadow & Light, a collection of fantasy, science fiction and mystery stories. Well, by the time I had finished the first tale, “Whom Gods Destroy,” a story about a robot who caretakes the last library on earth after a natural holocaust had wiped out all human life, I was totally hooked on Flynn’s storytelling. Honestly, I fell in love with his incredible imagery and amazing use of metaphors. They both made me feel as if I'd stepped into the story, and was seeing things through the robot’s point of view. Rupert (the robot) was totally captivating as a character who had become human after reading the great works of literature over a 3000-year time frame. Tolstoy, Melville, Fitzgerald—they were all there, and had totally transformed the robot into a living and breathing figure, perhaps more human than human. I guess you could say that I was totally captivated by Flynn’s excellent writing style – which you don’t really see in modern novels today. Rupert’s story also reminded me of Isaac Asimov’s great robot stories, and made me feel a bit nostalgic for the tales Analog and Fantasy & SF magazines used to publish in the golden era of science fiction. I then listened to the next tale, one about the Jovians who live in the atmosphere of Jupiter, and regarded it with that sense of awe and wonder when you’ve taken that next journey into imagination. Story after story kept me maintained my attention as I made the rounds for work. Some were whimsical; others horrifying, and still others insightful about the human condition. All demonstrated the remarkable writing skill of a master story-teller. This is an audio book I will keep, and return to often, like a beloved child.

4 people found this helpful

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A Great Read! Showing Flynn's Wide Narrative Reach

I've read several of John Flynn’s Kate Dawson thrillers and at least one science fiction novel over the years, but the chance to read a selected handful of Flynn’s stories in a single collection, like Visions in Light and Shadow, seemed too good to pass up as an audio book. As you might expect, the collection of stories – as chosen by the author himself – is a wonderful read, showcasing his wide narrative reach, which includes fantasy and science fiction, horror, and mysteries, and his incredible use of words and phrases that are lyrical and prosaic. Few writers today have as much fun describing settings or building characters as Flynn who confesses his writing was influenced by the great F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ray Bradbury. Each story in the collection is framed by a short introduction written by the author, explaining his inspiration or motivation to write that particular story. For example, Flynn’s Hugo-nominated short story, “A Gift of Verse,” was inspired by Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Bradbury’s “The Smile,” and takes place in that mythical community just adjacent to Jackson’s and Bradbury’s small town America. Seven-year-old Martha Goodman and her family travel to Collinsville, Illinois, over a crater-pitted road in their horse-and-buggy to witness a hanging; the setting appears to be pre-Civil War America, but is in fact years after a nuclear holocaust has destroyed most of the world, and left the handful of survivors barely clinging to life. Goodman’s family and the other townsfolk have agreed to put everyone they deem guilty of destroying their world to death; on that particular day, they are hanging a real enemy of the people, a poet. The seven-year-old sees nothing wrong with the poet’s last words, as he recites a poem liberally from The Psalms, and puts his final words to memory as she returns home with her family. The story is both chilling and horrifying, but is of course a metaphor for all those groups who seek to silence others with their self-proclaimed censorship. Other stories in the collection are much more optimistic, particularly the novella that inspired Flynn’s science fiction novel, The Jovian Dilemma. All the rest of the stories are inspired by the author’s vast imagination, including a short-short story about a time traveler who insists on returning a tool he bought seconds before at the Sears & Roebuck in another continuum. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” is both funny and satirical. I’m giving the collection 5 stars for Flynn’s outstanding writing and imagination and Geoffrey Boyes excellent narration. Listen to the dialect Boyes assumes for “A Gift of Verse” and you’ll experience yet another master at work with this performance.

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Joyous!

I enjoyed reading Visions in Light & Shadow from 3-time Hugo Nominee John Flynn. Listening to these stories on audio book was similar to watching The Twilight Zone marathon on New Year's Day. With each of Flynn's stories, you get a morality play not unlike Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. Entertainment with a real moral lesson about the human condition. Take "Whom Gods Destroy," for example. Rupert, a robot, has been toiling at the last great library on earth, waiting for human patrons to return. He has grown to love the books and writings left in his care, and has deified the authors for their wisdom about life. When humans do return, they're only interested in profits; they care nothing for the literature of the past. Rupert is, in many ways, more human than they are, and therein lies the tale...or should I say tales for there are numerous stories in this collection. Some stories are satiric; some are terrifying; some funny and insightful, and others supremely cathartic. Even though the genres are science fiction and fantasy, horror and mystery, every one of Flynn's stories creates a masterful metaphor that says a lot about man and his place in the universe. At this time of the year, the work is truly "joyous."

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Captivating stories! Highly recommend!

I bought Visions in Light and Shadow in order to read a selection of the three-time Hugo nominee’s short stories. Wow! I’m glad I did. This great collection was well worth my time. Each one of the stories is very good. Reading them from beginning to end is like spanning the author’s great career. I was enormously pleased with these captivating tales of science fiction and mystery. Any one of them could be made into a full length movie, or an episode on The Twilight Zone. Great performance of the narrator Geoffrey Boyes.

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Stories & Social Commentary!

John Flynn is more than a popular, bestselling author of thrilling detective novels; his new audio book, Visions in Light & Shadow, is a collection of short stories that reveals he is a social historian and commentator about the human condition. Mark Twain, Jean Shepherd, and Ray Bradbury seem to have inspired him to write these tales. Each story is unique and teaches a lesson about the human spirit; some of those lessons are a brutal reflection of the negative that we see all around us every day, and other stories suggest that hope can prevail if we just try to love and understand each another. “A Gift of Verse,” Flynn’s Hugo-nominated short story, pays homage to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Bradbury’s “The Smile,” by introducing us to a seven-year-old Martha Goodman who questions the choices her parents and society have made after a nuclear-holocaust has laid waste to her world. They are traveling the dangerous, bombed out road to town to witness a hanging. The “good” reverend and town elders have decided to hang a poet” because his poetry “intoxicates” young people’s brains and causes them to abandon their chores. Basically, the verse runs contrary to the conservative, right-wing values of the community. Martha doesn’t understand their reasoning, and after she listens to the poet’s last words (before he is hanged), she can find nothing bad about them even though the local folk fear him so much. She has received “a gift of verse” from the poet. Like this one, there were very few happy endings in the stories, but the sad stories still teach us a great lesson about what lies inside each person. It really is quite an intriguing and extraordinary collection. You’ll love Flynn’s excellent storytelling ability, and then will spend time afterwards contemplating what he was saying. Thank you, Audible, for publishing a truly amazing book.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent Collection of Short Stories!

Before John Flynn became a best-selling author of thrilling detective stories, he wrote short science fiction for the pulp science fiction magazines. This collection of Flynn's short stories is really an outstanding one, and is newly released as both an audio book and a print collection of his best stories. The stories are not all science fiction. There's a horror story about Spring Breakers being stalked by a female vampire; there's a mystery/detective tale written like the Sherlock Holmes stories, with the world's greatest detective facing his most difficult whodunit; there's even a fantasy tale in which time seems to repeat its great biblical prophecy. The others are speculative fiction at its best. My favorite was "Interfacing Rush" because it's a cyberpunk tale with a lot of heart as two homeless vets take on a multimillionaire like Trump or Bloomberg who cares nothing for people. The clover solution to the story turns the tables in what may have been a great O'Henry tale a century ago. You'll love meeting Rupert, Robby the Robot's literary descendant, and a time traveler who arrives a bit too soon to trade his latest purchase at the Sears of the future. Flynn's Hugo-nominated tale is also here, in its original form. A great short story, and in any form, one of the great short stories of the last 100 years. Listen to these works on this great audio book and you'll have a great time!

2 people found this helpful