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!

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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”

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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!

Continue reading “Ghosts and Shadows”

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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”

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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”

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Cover of Legacy of Pandora: Shan Takhu Legacy: Book One by Eric Michael Craig

Set in a future where Earth has become all but uninhabitable and human colonization has extended throughout the inner Solar System, Legacy of Pandora follows two separate storylines. Out in the cold dark of the Neptune L-4 Trojan Cluster, the ice harvesting research vessel Jakob Waltz is about to run into serious trouble. Back home in the governing Council of the Human Union, FleetCartel Chancellor Katryna Roja is just beginning to uncover a twisted web of corruption, resource theft, and murder.

Continue reading “Review: Legacy of Pandora”

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Thrill Kings: The Gray Walls by Rik Ty cover

In The Grey Walls, our heroes battle an interdimensional intruder like nothing they’ve ever seen before. Having taken over an office tower, the creature seems to be slowly absorbing its hapless victims– which include Nonstop, Krork, and all of the office workers, as well as a multitude of nightmarish creatures from other dimensions.

The result is an office tower filled with a maze of constantly-shifting gray walls– walls which bear still-living impressions of the creature’s meals.

Continue reading “Review of Thrill Kings: The Gray Walls”

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I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2018”

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Tales from Alternative Earths 2 cover

The haunting and all-too-believable tale of the first woman cosmonaut to reach space. A Handmaid’s Tale-esque account of a present day where witch trials never went out of style. An alternate past where Hitler was diverted from the course that eventually saw him rise to power and orchestrate the largest genocide in recorded history. An alternate history where an Andalusian polymath invented the glider and gave birth to a future utterly unlike that which we know today.

Continue reading “Review: Tales from Alternate Earths 2”

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Cyberpunk Is Evolving

I recently stumbled across an article that sums up what some people have been noticing for a while: cyberpunk is becoming increasingly distorted by its transition into the cultural mainstream.

Cyberpunk was sci-fi for those who saw the power of the computer, its mounting ability to overtake everything personal (attention, time, privacy), and were bracing for impact. It was speculative fiction for everyone wary of the growing influence of massive corporations and ready to be leaders in the technological rebellion.
To reflect this, cyberpunk’s protagonists—the personalities that would become the face of the genre—were uniformly disobedient.

Continue reading “Cyberpunk is Evolving”

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