Fourth Degree Freedom explores the best of humanity and the worst. The stories range from hopeful realism to the dystopian side of speculative fiction. Each story twists and turns through darkness and light, settling somewhere in the shadowy area of day to day life.
Thank You For Calling – A young woman fights to keep her sanity, her marriage and her hope while working in a call center.
The Event – Do the youth decide to go along with the government’s plan to rid the population of the elderly, or will they fight back?
Fourth Degree Freedom – A family, shunned by neighbors and friends, struggles with their youngest son, a boy that was literally born a monster.
The Last Six Miles – Samantha has hit rock bottom. Her husband has left her and her only source of comfort is junk food. Her slip into depression seems inevitable until she discovers running. Samantha begins the long journey from barely being able to jog a minute to completing her first marathon.
She Floats – If you woke up and didn’t know where you were, would you panic? What if you were trapped in a giant aquarium?
Fourth Degree Freedom is a good book to read on the weekend, or any day you have ‘free’ and you don’t have much time, but really feel like reading. At 41 pages, it’s a collection of five short stories. The stories showcase a talent that can cross genres, including dystopia, general, on the verge of supernatural, and mystery fiction.
The first story, Thank You For Calling, I was immersed in, but not completely taken with. I think that’s mainly because it wasn’t my type of story. It’s about a woman stuck in a job she doesn’t want to be in, trying to survive day-to-day life, and find something better.
While I wasn’t too fussed on the first one, I thought it was a good example of showing off the writer’s talents. It was easy to be carried away with the tale, get to know the character, and feel something, all within the short span of pages it took up.
The second story, titled The Event, was more interesting for me because it had a dystopian feel and is one I would love to read as a longer story. I would really like to know what the motives were behind the event in the narrative and the history behind the whole society. There was a moment there where I had a ‘woah’ reaction, as with quite a few dystopian stories, short or otherwise, there’s a scenario that’s not nice and can make you question how sick that society is.
The third one, Fourth Degree Freedom, was bittersweet and is also the one verging on supernatural. This story is more a case of loving the ending as I feel the ending makes it. Actually, I think in this case it might be the ending and the beginning. The middle holds it’s own, but sometimes there’s certain parts to the story that stand out and for me it was the start and finish.
The fourth one, The Last Six Miles, was probably the longest and more general fiction. I get the impression it’s about moving on, taking charge of your life, and doing something for yourself to create your own freedom. While not really my style of story, as it was with the first, it was easy to be swept away with the tale and feel for the character.
The final story, She Floats, is probably my second favourite after The Event. It’s also the shortest, but I think it holds a lot of impact. To me it’s the right sort of culmination to this collection with a message of live to it. And of course it’s also one I would love as a longer story. I think it has the appeal and the possibility to be one and it’s just my kind of sick crime scenario in entertainment.
All these stories, besides being about choices and what the notion of freedom is, have a great character work-up in the sense of being able to draw the reader in and connect them within a few pages. Libby Heily has not only put together narratives with a deeper message that all fit together, but she’s really been able to bring her talent forth through her words and because of that I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.