Tales from the unknown fork in the road.
by Rick Stepp-Bolling (Author), John Brantingham (Forward)
Autocide is a collection of off-beat stories ranging from the bizarre to the subtly unnerving. Take a wild ride down these rarely traversed roads and enjoy the trip.
“The 22 stories that make up Autocide are wonderful tales full of whimsy and capricious characters faced with obstacles in life they must react to. The joy is in watching Rick meticulously pick his way through their options and bring us to charming and often surprising conclusions. This is an excellent book for anyone who wants snatches of fascinating stories every time they begin a fresh short adventure.”
About the Author
Crap!” Mot would have sent the bullfrog cascading through a universe of hungry Frenchmen if he had known the spell. But he didn’t know the spell, and the warty frog “ribbeted” in a low disgusting manner, breath reeking of flies, in Mot’s chagrined face. “You are not supposed to be a frog,” Mot cried carrying on his futile conversation with the green amphibian sitting in front of him. “‘Toran‘ is not the word for frog.”
“Maybe it’s your accent?” said a young brunette, curiously eyeing frog and sorcerer.
“Sorcerers don’t have accents, Tracy. There’s only one way to pronounce a spell. The rest is a matter of hand-eye coordination.” Mot walked to the full-length mirror occupying nearly a quarter of the apartment wall. Spreading his feet shoulder width, he stared with a fixed and awful gaze at the five-foot-five, purple turbaned man in front of him. Then slowly, he lifted his left eyebrow until the red lines beneath his cornea bulged like arteries. With his left hand raised above his waist, fingers spread and parallel to the linoleum floor, Mot thundered, “Toran!” “Toran!” “Toran!” shaking the mirror with the sheer force of his vibration.
Before him from a cloud of whirling vision, half floor, and half object, a foot long Diplasiocoele leaped awkwardly onto Mot’s tennis shoe. The sorcerer’s face dropped, the corners of his mouth twitching in anguish.
Tracy kept the smile from her lips, “The little bugger’s in love with your shoe.”
Mot looked woefully at the green figure wrapped closely around his foot. Straightening himself to gain some measure of dignity, he replied, “It’s simply a momentary attachment of creation toward creator. A common hazard with animal incantations.” The effort of maintaining a dignified pose with a giant frog humping his foot was too much, and Mot was transformed into a brilliant scarlet, his whole body shaking.
“Now, Mot… ” Tracy tried to warn, but the pressure exploded like cheap champagne.
Kicking his leg forward violently, the frog released its hold and drifted to the apartment ceiling. Then raising his arm behind his ear, Mot hurled a small lightning bolt, which narrowly missed the creature, but burned a neat hole through an oil portrait of a white-haired ancestor. Mot whirled on his right sneaker, facing Tracy with an accusing glare.
Tracy quickly covered her mouth with both hands, but only managed to muffle a high-pitched giggle that sent Mot storming from the room. “Oh, Mot…” she started, but could say no more as “Mot” turned into a staccato of laughter. Only by summoning up her reservoir of solemnity did she control herself and turn her attention to the banished sorcerer. “Poor Mot,” she said aloud, watching the two frogs who were now engrossed in discovering they were the same sex. “Poor Marlin,” she moved toward the singed portrait and ran her hand against the textured oils. “That white beard will never be the same.”
Top Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars: Delightful Collection of Short Stories
“Autocide reminds me, in many ways, of a box of chocolates: there are different stories of different ingredients mingling together to form a wonderful whole. From humorous to deeply thought-provoking, poignant to sci-fi, they cover a wide swath of emotions and styles. I loved delving into these short stories, loved experiencing Stepp-Bolling’s beautiful prose. I hopped around throughout the book like I would a box of chocolates, and in the end, I came away entirely satisfied.”
5.0 out of 5 stars: A Soul’s Delight
“Good teaching is letting others get in touch with your soul. And if your soul is trustworthy, it is passed on to the next generation of soulmakers.” This line, from one of the powerful stories in Autocide, perfectly describes the vulnerability with which Rick Stepp-Bolling interacts with his readers. He invites you to explore forces that dance alongside each of our daily lives but to which we are barely conscious–fatalism, free will, guilt, death, the whimsy of our souls and our place in the universe, to name a few. And he does so with characters that are intimately drawn and uncomfortably (sometimes) close to parts of myself. At first I was surprised by what I thought of as an abrupt end to some of the stories. But as I read I realized I was forced to continue the story in my mind and heart, and this made me not the passive reader I am everywhere else, but involved and changed as I interacted with the world he created. Not to mention his superb command of language and metaphor. I doubt I will ever again look at a long stretch of freeway unfurled ahead of me without the phrase “concrete tongue of the dragon” in my head. Five vivid words perfectly paired with my experience of a long hot drive, while eliciting a smile at his creativity. Thank you Rick for superb writing.”
5.0 out of 5 stars: I have thoroughly enjoyed delving into Mr.
By Maria Luisa Fuller
“I have thoroughly enjoyed delving into Mr. Stepp-Bolling’s collection of short stories and experiencing the wide variety of imaginative settings as well as colorful characters, some humorous, others magical and a few in the state of personal diminishment . The life circumstances depicted in his writings, made me delve into and reflect on my own journey through life and appreciate the multitude of settings and individuals, both of which, had a tremendous impact on the choices I have made as well the person I am today. I love Mr. Stepp-Bolling’s creativity in bringing to life such diverse and unique tales and thank him for sharing them with his readers. I feel blessed!”
5.0 out of 5 stars: This genre lends itself to unusual endings and in that you will not be disappointed. His stories are enjoyable…
“Rick is a masterful writer. His short stories are crafted well, showing a strong use of all the elements of the English language. Unlike so many writers in the world today, he delights in the written word. This genre lends itself to unusual endings and in that you will not be disappointed. His stories are enjoyable for the casual reader but have a depth that will satisfy the serious reader.”
5.0 out of 5 stars: Om
By Bryan Fernandez
Stepp-Bolling’s collection of stories make you think while being entertaining. If one tried to distill the meanings of the stories into statements, perhaps they would take the shape of koans. During these times when no one seems to be the ultimate authority on anything, being able to connect the dots for yourself makes this an edifying voice. Autocide is more about the process of reading it than the destination, a large part of this being the flavorful language of the book that puts you right there in the story.
5.0 out of 5 stars: His stories are at once fun and compelling
By Bill Wilbur: Author of SARAGOSA
Autocide is that rare collection of short stories crafted by a true lover of words and phrases. Rick Stepp-Bolling is a writer who likes to roll around in the English language. His stories are at once fun and compelling. There are stories in this collection that will make you laugh, and others that might make you squirm a bit, but all of them will make you think. Pick up this book and see what a master can do with storytelling.