How to 3D Print a God by George Saoulidis (Amazon)
Literary treats come in all sizes and flavors. Sometimes, the most delightful sweetness can be in the smallest, bite-sized package. Even if such a small morsel isn’t very much to stave off the Starving Reviewer’s mighty apatite, he can at least appreciate the taste, the flavors, and the artistry involved in making such a small package so sweet. Of course, just as often, a small bite can lead me to regret my life choice to eat and critique literature for all time. That duality of outcome is what now must be decided for How to 3D Print a God, a short little twenty-page short story.
Before we start to dissect this little morsel, let us remind ourselves of the Starving Review creed:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
Producing a self-contained short story that also integrates into a larger series must be something of a challenge. For me, short stories are difficult to write in and of themselves. Forcing a self-contained topic, establish characters, and do necessary world-building is a stretch in a ten to thirty page story. So first off, I must give Mr. Saoulidis points for audacity, what he’s attempting isn’t a simple task. The problem ensues that audacity will only get you so far in the literary kitchen.
To be sure, there are some interesting concepts explored in How to. The world, what little we can see of it, seems interesting, mixing classic cyberpunk elements with Greek mythology. The baseline plot, at a macro level, is quite sound and does form a self-contained story with elements to connect into the next story in the series.
That’s unfortunately where the good tastes end. The biggest thing that makes this treat go sour is the poor writing style. Dialogue especially is mangled as most rules of how to write it are mangled and thrown in the trash. I can’t emphasize enough just how important having clear and proper dialogue is. Dialogue is a huge key to characterization, especially in a first person book. To even have any idea of what is going on with characters outside of the PoV character, we need to be able to see and understand their dialogue. I won’t (except I just did) mention the several sentences in ALL CAPS to represent yelling. If you use ‘I yelled’ as a dialogue tag, I don’t need my eyes blown by ALL CAPS.
It’s not just dialogue, but that is the worst offender. While the world is potentially intriguing, the limitations of those twenty pages slams down most attempts at world building. There’s no background, no idea why the world is in the state it is, no concept of the date, and only the inference that the characters are probably in Greece, though I can’t say that for certain. Between the horrid dialogue formatting and the lack of space, the characters are mostly cardboard cutouts. The only one given any bit of a twist isn’t even the main PoV character.
What this leads to is a total lack of investiture. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters or their plight. It was just a short series of events and, boom, done. Don’t tell me that it’s impossible to add a dollop of relatability into such a small treat either. I’ve seen it done and I have taste that sweetness.
There’s one other area, one that I almost never cover. In fact, in fifteen of these reviews, I’ve never touched on it before but I feel as though I need to do so now. Price.
Most indie e-books run in the $2.99 to $3.99 range for a decent novel. Many of us starving authors wish we could charge a bit more for our babies, but that really isn’t to be for multiple business-like reasons I don’t wish to go into. I was a bit surprised then to find How to selling for $2.99. Twenty some odd pages compared to the hundreds of pages many other authors can provide for you.
Would I buy a little morsel like this for $2.99? Only if it was amazingly good, succulent, and fulfilling. This is not.
How to Print a 3D God is cyberpunk mixed with mythology with a fair amount of potential, but is hamstrung by a poor writing style, confusing dialogue grammar, weak characterization, and no relatable elements to hold on to. You’ll pop this bite into your mouth, chew it up, and likely forget about it entirely save for a tinge of a bitter aftertaste.
FINAL VERDICT: ** (A potentially interesting treat but it just winds up as dull and flavorless by the time you finish)