Cover of Soul Jacker by Michael John Grist

Michael John Grist’s Soul Jacker is easily one of the most unusual and thought-provoking cyberpunk novels out there. This book is up there with the classics of the genre in terms of style, narrative voice, and introduction of new concepts.

Grist has built a world that is strange and fascinating both inside and out: memories are injectable, mind bombs can disrupt and destroy thousands of minds without leaving a physical trace, and we’ve honed hacking the human mind down to a fine (if dangerous) art.

Ritry Goligh is one such hacker, or Soul Jacker, a former marine left adrift by the end of the war he was created for. He’s a hard individual who’s made a lot of sacrifices in order to survive, but he isn’t a bad guy. Despite picking up the pieces of a psyche shattered by trauma multiple times throughout his life, he never quite succumbs to the darkness. I found myself really liking that about him. He’s a hero, if nothing else than because he refused to become a monster like those that surrounded him. In an ugly world, refusing to give in to cruelty is an act of rebellion.

Grist gives the reader plenty of demons to hate, though, (or cheer for, if that’s your thing.) This is a narrative that pulls no punches, and gory is an understatement for much of the action. We plumb the depths of a world ravaged by fuel wars and rising sea levels, as well as the depths of Ritry’s oft-broken-and-rehealed mind– a labyrinthine maze of hidden memories and missing pieces, hidden behind steel walls of protective scar tissue and stalked by monsters. And then of course there are the traps laid by the enigmatic character known as Mr. Ruin.

Soul Jacker is a wilder ride than I ever expected when I picked it up, full of dizzying highs and sickening lows that I found oddly satisfying. This is a novel that will thrill you, horrify you, and make you think about where we’re going. I loved it, and I think you will too.

Sound interesting? Soul Jacker is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I highly recommend it!

Moon Buck

It felt like Jimmy’d walked up and punched him in the back. Jeremiah staggered forward, the sound of the gunshot ringing in his ears as a fine spray of blood erupted from his chest. His legs went weak. Glancing back toward the truck, he saw Jimmy lowering the hunting rifle from his shoulder.

“Why?” he whispered. Jimmy didn’t seem to hear him.

Ahead, though the moonlit clearing where they’d been stalking deer, the shadow of a massive buck raised its head. Strangely it hadn’t bolted at the sound of the shot. Footsteps crunched across dead leaves, and then Jimmy stood over him, face impassive.

Continue reading “The Moon Buck”

The Red Wind of an Alien World

The wind wailed through the remains of the outpost, burying corroded machinery in a shifting tide of fine red silt.

“This is pointless,” Lyndie said, not for the first time, from the right seat of the lander. “You think there’s going to be anything salvageable left in there?” He waved a scarred hand at a cavernous hole in the side of one of the derelict hangars.

“With that asteroid field up there? I think so,” Neff grunted back. “I don’t see many scavengers risking their lives for the chance at the scrap from an outpost this small.”

Lyndie snorted. “We did. And scrap? More like battery packs. Weapons. Field generators. Maybe even antigrav flyers. Just look at the size of those buildings. This wasn’t no farmers’ outpost!”

“Exactly,” Neff growled, piloting the battered craft to a gentle touchdown on a field of silt. “Good stuff. Stuff we need.”

“Think we’re the only ones to have that idea?” his copilot shot back. “Either everything good is long gone, or it’s booby-trapped. Remember Prima-5-Centauri? The FCP doesn’t leave their outposts for looters.”

“Who says its a FCP post?” Neff grumbled as he pulled on his helmet and locked its seal to the collar ring of his EVE suit.

“Oh, great. Alien tech. I feel so much better.” Lyndie’s sarcasm was apparent even over the radio connection afforded by the sealed extra-vehicular exploration suits.

“Could be some exploration firm’s abandoned field station. Quadrant’s littered with ‘em.” Neff pulled his rifle from the charging station and popped the hatch.

Continue reading “Wind of an Alien World”

It’s time for another installment of Fun with Spammers, in which the author takes apart a hapless spammer and subjects him to a brutal round of mockery. Do spammers annoy you too? Then this series is for you!

A marketing pitch turn up in my contact form submissions recently, wedged at the bottom of the bin like a moldy sandwich someone tossed into the postal drop. As an author, I see a lot of marketing pitches– and dubious ones at that. But few have been as dubious or as far off the mark as this one.

Continue reading “Fun With Spammers II”

KDP Print

As most authors who used CreateSpace are aware, last fall Amazon axed the service in order to increase enrollment in their new KDP Print program. What follows is an account of my transition to the new service and how books printed by KDP compare to those from CreateSpace.

This tale holds a couple of important caveats for anyone with books currently being printed by KDP. You’ll also probably get the feeling that I’m not a huge fan of Amazon– and it’s true, I’m not. I’m not a fan of any massive, industry-dominating corporate entity that makes a few people disgustingly wealthy at the expense of buyers, small businesses, and content creators.

Continue reading “KDP Print: A Word of Warning”

The Moon Festival has come to the riverfront slums. Spirits –Moon Children– walk the streets, returning to visit their loved ones. Little do the residents know, more than just spirits are drawn to the bowls of food left out for the Children.

This is the second installment of a three-part series. Haven’t read part one yet? Check it out here.

Continue reading “The Moon Children”

Rumor was, the only place the escaped subject could have gone was into the water. It seemed to take the authorities a little while to conclude that they wanted to search the city’s noxious waterways, but this was a city that never did anything by half measures.

The search teams were out on the water the next day, from sunrise to sunset and into the darkness, peering down into the murky water with lamps and prodding the depths with poles. The deep traffic waterways and shallow canals alike were dragged, bringing up everything from rusting refuse to discarded limbs to human remains. 156 active missing persons cases were solved in one night.

The searchers wore tactical wetsuits, rebreathers, and body armor under their life vests. They searched in groups of four or more, bristling with more weapons than the city’s residents had seen since the Claiborne Riots. They looked terrified of what they might find.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Escaped”