You can win a signed, limited-edition copy of Joubin’s Head through Hidden Clearing Books here!


In Joubin’s Head tries to pack a lot of story into a small space by suggesting rather than explaining critical details, and by using’s the character’s inner language rather than a narrator to advance the plot. The title character lies helplessly in a hospital bed as something progressively takes dominion over his mind. The true nature of the force that overcomes him is cleverly left up in the air. Is it an alien virus that spreads through the air and infects the mind? Perhaps it’s less sinister, and the entire story chronicles Joubin’s final hallucinations unto death.


The alien half of Joubin’s internal dialogue asks us to doubt what we mean when we say “I.” It makes him a spectator in his own mind, showing him his own memories and taking command of his body. If an alien force usurped access to all of your memories and knowledge, leaving you to be a mere spectator of your own life, are you sure that you would be able to tell? An alien virus designed to “live inside your life” could possibly live your life for you as you watched, without your guessing that you had lost control until the critical moment.


It must not be easy to open and close a narrative with a natural buildup and a satisfying ending in under 1500 words. Justin Key got that job done, though. I’m impressed enough to go check out some of his other work. Here’s a link to another short (but not as short) tale of his on Amazon: [easyazon_link asin=”B00OARG5UI” locale=”US” new_window=”yes” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Death’s Cafe: The Storm[/easyazon_link].