The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes
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Cover art for   Cavern of the Screaming Eyes  under fair useJeremiah Tolbert's story "The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes" is an enjoyable story about a teenage boy, Ivan, in a world where space-time anomalies make dungeon crawls a reality. They are not only real, but potentially lethal. Ivan is coping with the loss and presumed death of his brother during a dungeon crawl and his mother's ineffectual coping with this loss. Of course Ivan gets roped into his first dungeon crawl ever and does quite well indeed. Though a novice he has intuitive good judgment and can think on his feet.

The story is well written with detailed, integral world building and Tolbert quickly teaches the in-story jargon so that the reader is never left dazzled/mystified trying to relate to/understand the narrative. Tolbert sketches the characters quickly and effectively. The plot moves quickly without wasted wordage or wasteful peregrinations. In the end, neatly done with foreshadowing hints, Ivan has found his place and started a new phase in his life. One suspects this is Chapter One of a longer work.

I suppose this qualifies as young adult fiction. I don't know. I read stories like Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol" and "No Truce with Kings" . It's been many years since I was a young adult, but I think I would have enjoyed this story when I was 16. Even so, 58 year old me enjoyed the story and looks forward to reading more.

The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes by @jeremiahtolbert in Lightspeed Magazine, November 2016 (Issue 78)