Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I (Briefly) Think About When I Think About "Empircal Evidence" by Bryan Pedas and Brandon Meyers

Usually, my reviews of books and movies are longer than they really have any need to be, and I am in fact working on a longer review of the excellent book The Sensationally Absurd Life And Times Of Slim Dyson, by these same guys, but this story is actually a short one, so I can do a shorter review.

Lately, I have not been very into books.  The last two weeks I have started reading and then stopped reading at least four or five different books, including a volume of short stories, "Bad Doctor" by John Locke (hated -- HATED!-- the narrator and his stupid rambling voice within pages of beginning the book), something called The Financial Lives Of Poets that was sort of like Breaking Bad starring "Taco" from The League, and more.  I thought perhaps it was me, that I was going through a phase where I didn't feel much like reading.  But tonight I left in my car the one book that has been engaging me lately ("S" by J.J. Abrams, but it's a tough and sometimes annoying read) and I didn't feel like going through the multiple levels of security to get to my car in the garage and so while the boys were taking their baths and I was waiting for them to finish splashing water all over every surface in the bathroom, I got out my Kindle, sat in the hall, and opened up "Empirical Evidence", from the guys who write the blog A Beer For The Shower.

"Come on guys, don't let me down," I thought to myself, and THEY DID NOT.

"Empirical Evidence" is deserving of one of the highest compliments I can give a story: I was disappointed to see it end.  About 3/4 of the way through it I checked to see how much I had left to read and saw that I was 3/4 of the way through it and panicked a little, because the story was so great.

The Beer For The Shower guys I already knew are great writers.  Their blog is hilarious and the Slim Dyson book was really good, but in this story they showed a whole different level of skill.

The story itself is a good one; told from the perspective of a press-flack for an Emperor, it drops the reader into some sort of autocratic city-state that is slowly crushing the rebels in a war.  The opening pages, which do nothing more than set up the premise and relay information to people, are well-written enough that it doesn't register as an information dump, and it was while I was reading the beginning of this story that I realized it wasn't me that was the problem recently but the books that I'd been trying to read: they were poorly written, either because the stories themselves were stupid (that Financial Poets thing) or because the writing itself was pedestrian (isn't John Locke supposed to be a big deal? I bet 99% of his sales are just because of the cover art. Which was, admittedly, a big part of why I downloaded it.)

Anyway, my point is that in the first couple pages of this story, Pedas and Meyers have to set up a whole world, and they do that with writing that actually made me want to keep reading.  Part of it is the way they kept sort of hinting at how terrible this world is, and the idea that something big is going to happen, but the other part of it is just skillful writing that made me want to find out what happens to this flunkie.

It isn't until a bit into the story that the first event really happens: the main character, "Baron" is entering the palace and confronts a beautiful rebel he suspects is lurking there to kill the emperor, and at that point the story just takes off.  Already a pretty good story, it becomes a page-turner from there and saying more would spoil the impact of it.

I got to the end of the story pretty quickly, and the second-highest compliment I could pay a story is this: I couldn't wait to tell someone else to go read it. In fact, I'd have posted this review earlier except that I had to clean up the bathroom and then our youngest was using the computer to watch the Archer episode where they go into space, and while there are those who would say you shouldn't let an 8-year-old watch Archer, to them I say... I digress.  Go read Empirical Evidence by Brandon Meyers and Bryan Pedas.




  1. Wow, thanks for the review! We never even knew you grabbed this one, so sincerely, this is a true compliment and we're flattered to hear we don't suck. I think we're going to add "master of the info dump" to our collaborative resume.

  2. Hmm, I haven't read this one... Time to correct this :-)

  3. It's on my list to read, but I have to pace myself with them because they have so much stuff.
    I suppose I could just do a month of ABftS reviews.