Live Nude Aliens and Other Stories

J.D. DeLuzio. Brain Lag, $15.99 trade paper (262p) ISBN 978-1-928011-67-5

These 11 sci-fi shorts from DeLuzio (The Con) offer both gentle entertainment and insight. The human ability to excuse questionable behavior to avoid loneliness is given a horror twist in “Foundling.” Both the title story and “Space Comprimari” extrapolate bizarre possibilities of alien visits to Earth, while the more fantastical “The Count” imagines the consequences of dementia on an immortal being. The dark “No Human Involved” takes a terrifying look at technological advancements in the field of torture. The strongest pieces by far are “The Book of Den(n)is,” a moving tale that tracks two men over several decades of great social change, and “The Flying Whistle Stop,” a fascinating look at how the present might be altered if aliens had made contact in 1953, showing how, even in the face of an extraterrestrial threat, the greatest danger to humanity is humanity itself. There’s enough to chew on in these clever “what-ifs” to make this worthwhile for SFF readers. (Mar.)