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A Man and His Bird

“Incidental Contact”

The Weird Menace Adventures of O’Ryan and his Ostrich

by James Hold

As I read the first story in this book, with an intelligent ostrich, some ghosts, a genie, a solar flare that cause supernatural events, and an Indian ritual, I thought this was going to going to be bad. It came across as just a bunch of random events strung together. Occasionally I stopped after reading a line and asked myself if it was an attempt at droll humor.

But before it ends, that story picked up and all the following stories were good. Sure, the author plays fast and loose with the laws of the land and the laws of physics. Numerous paranormal events occur without any explanation. Not that the paranormal should be explained—after all, it stops being weird if it can be explained. But these weird adventures are a great idea for a funny book and it works. In fact, I’m reminded of the urban fantasy stories of John Collier. The humor and whimsy are not on that level but it’s not bad for a series of lighthearted adventures.

Our hero, O’Ryan is given the girl of his dreams by a genie. However, the girl comes in the form of an ostrich. To make things worse, the genie is now in human form and has disappeared. Trying to find him is what leads O’Ryan and his ostrich into these adventures.

Oddly enough, the first story is the weakest, but the following adventures are shorter and better paced. We are left without a clue why the alien artifact appeared in one story or how O’Ryan does not get arrested for his lame attempts to impersonate an officer of the law, but we don’t care. Just go with it and enjoy, because as the stories continue, you’ll be caught up in a certain charm. It’s all farce, but it’s engaging and endearing.

I found several words with missing letters but I think that’s due to the PDF I read. However, I also found “patience” for “patients” and a few other spelling errors, probably brought on by over reliance on a spellchecking program.

The early parts of the first story might be a little jumbled, but from there it’s a fun read.

4 stars.

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