Published February 2021 by Loyola College/Apprentice House
Paperback: 115 pages
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher's Summary:Exploring the possibility of sentient knowledge, FALLING FROM TREES by Mike Fiorito is a unique collection of short stories with sci-fi undertones. Perfectly pitched and paced, they are a refreshing addition to the short story genre in the tradition of Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, and Philip K. Dick. Fiorito’s stories grab the reader from the very first sentence and never let go. In clear, provocative and often poetic prose, they explore love, consciousness, identity and the human condition—and succeed in elevating the commonplace to the surreal. Fiorito invites us to interrogate our thinking. “These are not cynical tales,” he writes in the book’s preface. “In fact, they celebrate our potential salvation.”
Heartfelt, with longing and humor, Fiorito’s stories are written in short bursts of other-worldly auras as they knowingly vacillate between science fiction, speculative and literary genres. A few of the stories portray quasi-realistic scenes from the lives of couples and families. Others create worlds that are strange and sad, hopeful and poignant, brilliant and mysterious.
In “Climbing Time,” the first story in FALLING FROM TREES, aliens reach out to individuals with Asperger’s, communicating through vivid, wordless dreams. Other stories contemplate the disastrous impact of climate change. The interconnected “Pale Leviathan” and “Tomorrow’s Ghost” depict the ferocity of the sun invading homes cooled with “freezing air units” and the claustrophobia of a world where children are forced to stay indoors. “The Numbers Man,” “A Star in Time,” and other interconnected stories follow the enigmatic alien Smith through believable yet mysterious encounters with humans in a homeless encampment, a National Park, a beach town and a bar.
While often fantastic, the twenty-one stories in FALLING FROM TREES are ultimately about our lives and the relationships that mean the most to us. “Fiorito teaches us we need not look across the universe for universal truth,” writes Chad Frame, Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program. “Indeed his characters are as genuine and relatable as they are vast and mysterious. Through them, we can come to understand our place in it a little bit better.”
Sometimes when I get pitched a book, I know instantly it's a book for me. Other times I know instantly that it's a book my husband will enjoy. This book fell into the later category. For a guy who has trouble focusing for long, short stories are perfect and when those short stories fall into a variety of styles, they're even better for convincing a guy to sit down and read. Here are my husband's thoughts on Falling From Trees:
Falling From Trees by Mike Fiorito is an interesting little short story book that is a quick, fun read. It technically falls into the science fiction genre. Even though the stories develop quickly, the stories have great character development, continuity and threads of various common topics flowing through them.
The author has the theme of aliens helping the people of Earth save themselves from various forms of destruction, particularly around ways we are killing ourselves off or randomness of the universe destroying our world. Climate and even politics, in particular, pop up periodically in many of the stories but you don't feel over counseled or preached to as the messages are imbedded in interesting stories.
While this sounds depressing it has a very positive and upbeat tone in most cases with a strong feeling of hope that we can save ourselves or be saved from otherworldly beings. The stories tie together with, as I said, similar underlying themes and characters. I like the tone of the characters and stories; and, even though other worldly in many cases, they are something more believable. I particularly enjoyed the first story, Climbing Time, about how those with Asperger's are the people able to communicate with aliens; The Three Bridges, about an astrophysicist meeting a magician; and Earth To Earth, about a character in the Mojave desert.
Falling from Trees is an interesting and fun read that can be enjoyed by a broad spectrum of ages and men or women. It has my seal of approval!
Thanks to the ladies of TLC Book Tours for including us on this book tour. For other opinions, please check out the full tour.
Mike Fiorito is an Associate Editor for Mad Swirl Magazine and a regular contributor to the Red Hook Star Revue. Mike is the author of Call Me Guido published by Ovunque Siamo Press. He is also the author of Freud’s Haberdashery Habits published by Alien Buddha Press. Mike lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two sons. He is currently working on a novel.