Warning: Spoilers ahead.
This story follows a samurai's attempt to kill a monster the size of a mountain that is terrorizing his country.
I thought that the premise of this story was interesting.
There was nothing else about this story that really drew me in. The writing style was neither amazing nor terrible. The setting was glossed over. The story was almost painfully straightforward. It did not inspire any real emotions. I just did not find anything about this story that was memorable.
Part of why I was not drawn in is that I did not feel any real connection with the main character since he made choices that I thought were dumb. I could not figure out why he thought it would be a good idea to spend any time in a cave. Keep in mind that the monster is the size of a mountain and in fact has layers of dirt and rocks and even trees growing on it. Every step of this monster causes the dirt, rocks and trees to fall off. There is a high chance of that cave collapsing or falling off entirely. Why would you choose to stay there for hours on end?
Although I tried, I was not able to put my annoyance at this aside completely. Then he ducked into another cave and happened to find the brain of the monster. Which, of course, is the key to killing the monster.
I had a really hard time with the ending. Not the way that he kills the monster - that was clearly set up previously and followed logically (once I figured out what was going on). More that when the samurai saw the brain, he had no idea what to do. His mind was a blank slate. The next sentence, he had shoved his sword into the monster's brain and that was, of course, the correct action. Since there was no preface to the action and almost no explanation afterwards, I had to read it a couple times to make sure that I really understood what was happening. I finished the story feeling annoyed with the main character again.
Overall, it was just another short story that I can say that I've read.
Do I think A Single Samurai by Steven Diamond is award worthy?
Current rankings for Best Short Story:
3. On a Spiritual Plain
5. No Award