There’s something both chilling and deeply saddening about these images. I don’t post that much art that involves zombies or dead bodies– zombies and gore for the sake of gore fail to make me feel much of anything. Dead astronauts and cosmonauts are a different story.
The discoveries made by the crew of the Jakob Waltz in the cold darkness of the outer solar system have set off a catastrophic chain of events, fatally destabilizing the fragile balance of power among the factions of the Human Union. Worse, they’ve inadvertently activated a doomsday failsafe created to protect humanity in the event of contact with an extrasolar entity.
Former FleetCartel Chancellor Katryna Roja and her allies are on the run, the crew of the Waltz is struggling to make the best of an increasingly ugly situation, and it’s beginning to look like humanity will be far worse off under the control of the omnipotent and all-encompassing AI known as Odysseus than they were under the Human Union. More calculating than the greatest chess master, able to infiltrate and manipulate virtually any system, Odysseus swiftly proves itself to be a cold, calculating, and ultimately ominous entity.
The artefact encountered by the intrepid crew of the Jakob Waltz isn’t without its own mysteries and perils either. Just as Odysseus at first seemed benignly helpful, the Tacra Un proves to be at times disturbingly unconcerned with the well-being and ongoing survival of its unwilling inhabitants.
If you enjoyed the hard science, intrigue, and interstellar action of Star Trek and felt that Skynet wasn’t far-reaching or threatening enough, then Fulcrum of Odysseus is definitely for you! It’s a riveting read and I greatly enjoyed it. Honorable mentions are also in order for the slang spoken by the residents of Tsiolkovskiy Freeport East (very nicely done!) and the introduction of genetically modified and upgraded humans. This is one of those rare series where the second book is even better than the first.
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.
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.
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.
In the aptly-named Blood Crystal, twins Delvina and Retza face the aftermath of the banishment of the evil Overseer Uzza. The Glimmer Heart that powers their people’s subterranean world is failing, and time is running out for the Darane to find a solution.
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.
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.
The Moon Festival has come to the riverfront slums: a time when ghosts and shadows walk the streets, returning to visit their loved ones. Some visitors are more welcome than others.
This is the third installment of a three-part series. New to the story? Start here!