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The Crack Magazine

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Fauna by David Hartley

Within this collection there are stories of abandoned guinea pigs, cyber cockroaches (hunting a group of mime artists), and a robot dog. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find a genre which fits Hartley's short story collection. So much so that Hartley and his publisher have adopted the term "vegan noir" to encapsulate the weird and wicked worlds he creates. These stories certainly creep and crawl over your brain as you read. No matter what you think you may know about animals and their relations with us humans, Hartley gives a whole new perspective. Some of the stories seem to call back to fables, while some like 'Come and See the Whale' show up the inherent flaws in our expanding reliance on technology. This story particularly interested me because it shows humans trying to be better than nature, kinder than nature. Another technology based story, 'Shooting an Elephant', really mirrors how often our feelings towards a new idea can shift from promising to dark. The story at first shows the intriguing way of "hunting" that has been developed, and as a reader I initially saw the positives of hunting a group of mime artists rather than animals themselves. There is humanity and heart within these stories, but they are not embodied within human characters. Instead, cockroaches show unbreakable family bonds, while Charon, the ferryman of souls, gives us a tale of loneliness cured only by guinea pigs. As we move into a future in which we have to think about our impact on the natural world, and the other species that inhabit it, Hartley's stories absorb while also making you think. KM

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