Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

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Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales – stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic – produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Overview
Obsidian (Lux, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Aliens, Romance, Science fiction, Young adult
Dates read: 28th July – 17th September 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: It wasn’t usually the safest way to travel.

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Synopsis

The unputdownable first novel in the Lux series. Daemon Black will set pulses racing…

There’s an alien next door. And with his looming height and eerie green eyes, he’s hot… until he opens his mouth. He’s infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, he marks me. Turns out he has a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal his abilities and the only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until my alien mojo fades. If I don’t kill him first, that is.

When Katy moves to West Virginia right before her senior year, she’s anticipating a whole lot of boring. The last thing on her mind is getting involved with her sexy, exasperating neighbour – and then finding out he’s guarding a mind-blowing secret…

Thoughts

This was a seriously good novel. It took me a little while to read, but mostly because I kept getting distracted by other, shinier books. It was still wonderful and fun. This was a great teenage / young adult book with great world building and a lead female who I could really relate to. Definitely an enjoyable adventure. And, now that I’ve finished it… I can’t wait to read the next one and journey back into Armentrout’s world of the Lux.

This had a pretty typical level of the teen angst that I’m used to looking for in a young adult novel. But it was a little less painful than some of the other young adult books I’ve read – the angst was nicely balanced by the gumption and drive of Kat. I actually really enjoyed the angst that was a part of this story – it wasn’t over the top and painful, and honestly, if I had to deal with Daemon’s attitude like Kat does… I’d be pretty angsty and irritable myself.

I absolutely love the world building that Armentrout does in this series. I enjoyed the prequel Shadows, and that had a nice little introduction into this series. But it didn’t give me a full background into the world of the Lux. This novel most definitely did that. Although, I’m glad I know a little more about Dawson from Shadows. It’s a great world building that I can’t wait to sink my metaphorical teeth into… I just need to save up some money before I buy the next book is all…

Kat and Daemon definitely don’t have a cutesy, sweet relationship. Which I most definitely love. I get a bit fed up with relationships in books (both young adult and adult) which focus on the cutesy, love at first sight angle. That just doesn’t feel overly realistic to me. Instead, Daemon and Kat are constantly niggling at one another and making things somewhat difficult for each other. It’s a lot more similar to the healthy relationships that I see in my life (even if this one isn’t totally healthy).

I absolutely can’t wait to read Oblivion – I’m fascinated to see what all of the moments in Obsidian looked like through Daemon’s eyes. There are some wonderful and fun hints at the end of Obsidian, but I look forward to getting even more insight.

<- ShadowsOblivion ->

Image source: Goodreads

Artemis by Andy Weir

Overview
Artemis by Andy Weir - Penguin Books Australia

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space
Dates read: 9th – 22nd July 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Combined with a hijab (head cloth) to cover my hair, only my eyes were visible.

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Synopsis

Welcome to Artemis. The first city on the moon. Population 2,000. Mostly tourists. Some criminals.

Jazz Bashara is one of the criminals. She lives in a poor area of Artemis and subsidises her work as a porter with smuggling contraband onto the moon. But it’s not enough.

So when she’s offered the chance to make a lot of money she jumps at it. Now all she needs to do is plan the perfect crime in one of the most dangerous places in the universe – and survive it.

Thoughts

Alright. I’ve heard the name Andy Weir multiple times over the years. And now I completely understand why I’ve heard such positive things! And why he’s so popular. Just because… wow. This book was amazing. It was phenomenal. It was funny. It was witty. And I absolutely adored reading this book… I plan to do so again and again and again.

One of the things I loved about this story was that it felt seriously realistic. It felt like there was a complete chance of Artemis being built on the moon. With all of the seedy complications and secrets which such a world entails. Somehow, Weir manages to mix science fiction and imagination with known science to bring about a great story that feels completely, totally and happily realistic.

There is something ridiculously fun about Jazz throughout this… no matter what she does. She seems to just get into more and more trouble. It creates this giant rollercoaster ride. Every time you think that she’s getting herself safe and the problem might be solved… she manages to get into a whole other kind of trouble. The only reason that fact didn’t take me completely by surprise… I could see how many pages of the book were left.

There are so many brilliant and witty one-liners in this novel. I spent a lot of time reading this out loud to my partner. Sharing those great lines and moments with someone who had no idea what I was reading. But, probably appreciated the humour that such simple moments throughout the story bought to our nightly rituals. Not only is this a fantastic adventure story set on the moon, but there’s also a slow unravelling of Jazz’s past that coincides with everything. Upping the stakes and pulling you even further into the beautiful story.

<- The MartianCheshire Crossing ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

One Small Step… by Amie Kaufman

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: One Small Step…
Author: Amie Kaufman
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Aliens, Australian authors, LGBTQI, Science fiction, Young adult
Dates read: 30th June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Only a few people have ever returned from Mars to Earth, but it’s possible, just very expensive.

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Synopsis

She’s the first born Martian. And rightly famous for it. But what if what she wants isn’t the life that has been mapped out for her? How can she figure out how to take that first, small step into her own future?

Thoughts

This was such an amazingly cute, engaging and brilliant short story. It also perfectly encompassed the theme of “beginning” which is featured in the Begin, End, Begin collection. After all, it is about a girl on the precipice of adulthood, trying to decide what she wants to do with her life and her future. The fact that she was the first person born on Mars and is somewhat of a celebrity just helps to add to the potency of the storyline.

There are two coming-of-age battles that are fought and dwelt upon beautifully in this short story. The first is the decision about whether or not to go to college on earth. What one wants to actually do with their lives in the future. And, ultimately, how much of this decision is based upon your own needs, and how much is based upon the desires of those who love you. I know that it was a battle that I constantly had to fight when I was trying to make decisions about my future.

Secondly, there is the little fact that the lead narrator is actually LGBTQI+. Her constant battle with not knowing how to reveal this fact and desire to do so… it’s kind of precipice-feeling. And so, when she finally makes a decision about her life at the end, you are just so damn happy. It really made my heart swell two more sizes.

This is a fantastic, perfect coming-of-age story that takes you to that precipice of the future. That will either make you think of your own potential future, or those moments like this that feel so important and all powerful… just ready for you too to jump of that cliff and start your own reality.

<- Begin, End, BeginI Can See The Ending ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Overview
Unremembered (Unremembered, #1) by Jessica Brody

Title: Unremembered
Author: Jessica Brody
Series: Unremembered #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Romance, Science fiction, Time travel, Young adult
Dates read: 29th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Especially given you… well, celebrity status.

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Synopsis

When Freedom airlines flight 121 went down, they didn’t expect to find anyone. Alive, that is.

But there was one survivor. Which is why a sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage – alive – is making headlines across the globe.

Even stranger is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. but can she really trust him? Can she trust anyone?

Thoughts

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for quite a while. Ever since I read Unstolen. It looked kind of cute and intriguing. But honestly, that was the extent of my thought process. It was always a book that I’ll get to at some point. And then I needed a book with a title starting with a U for a reading challenge… and wow. This is not just good. It is ridiculously good. I actually couldn’t believe how much this pulled me in. And just how quickly.

Alright, so this is a bit of a teeny little romance. Which is why I gave it one less star than I probably would have otherwise given it. I do tend to find that star-crossed lovers can get a bit of an overbearing trope. And for the majority of this novel, that was kind of how I felt about that main relationship. But then… but then it really started to develop. As more of Sera’s history was revealed, her relationship with Zen became less and less irritating and more and more developed. And now? Now I can’t wait to see how that will develop in the next two books in this trilogy. Started out a bit eh, but the relationship quickly built upon itself and developed into a great aspect of the storyline.

I knew that there was a time travel aspect to this novel. After all, it says so on Goodreads. But this wasn’t quite the time travel that I was expecting. There is surprise after surprise throughout this novel that makes you constantly reconfigure and question the whole time travel angle. And at the very ending? You’re still kind of questioning things. Still wondering if you have all of the information about time travel locked away into your brain. And what you’ve probably missed… it makes for a seriously intriguing and great way to tell a time travel story.

Aside from the teeny / young adult storyline and the very unique take on time travel… I absolutely adored how Brody is able to play with the idea of memories and thoughts all the way throughout this story. In each and every moment, you’re questioning what is real and what is manufactured. And how memories can be stored. How much influence memories actually have on our personalities… it’s a fascinating realm to play with and Brody did an absolutely fantastic job of making you think through each and every sentence.

<- More Jessica BrodyUnstolen ->

Image source: Goodreads

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Overview
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

Title: I Hope You Get This Message
Author: Farah Naz Rishi
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, LGBTQI, Science fiction, Young adult
Dates read: 23rd – 27th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Teen
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: Derek had been crushing on Mia Jimenez – a junior and the current president of the Video Game Club – since day one of their freshman year.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Seven days. Seven days. The Earth might end in seven days.

When news stations start reporting that Earth has been contacted by a planet named Alma, the world is abuzz with rumors that the alien entity is giving mankind only few days to live before they hit the kill switch on civilization.

For high school truant Jesse Hewitt, though, nothing has ever felt permanent. Not the guys he hooks up with. Not the jobs his underpaid mom works so hard to hold down. Life has dealt him one bad blow after another — so what does it matter if it all ends now? Cate Collins, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she’s never met, the man she grew up hearing wild stories about, most of which she didn’t believe. And then there’s Adeem Khan. While coding and computer programming have always come easily to him, forgiveness doesn’t. He can’t seem to forgive his sister for leaving, even though it’s his last chance.

With only seven days to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide even as their worlds are pulled apart.

Thoughts

Holy crap. This book was amazing. It was brilliant, funny and completely impossible to put down! I absolutely adored this novel. And just. Wow. At first I was actually kind of pissed off at the open-ended nature of the ending. But, the more I’ve thought about it, the most I’ve realised just how amazing it truly is.

I really loved the idea that we are not actually the dominant race in the universe – that really, we’re just a genetic experiment. Kind of like sheep. Or cattle. Or something else that we figure is just something to play with and watch. Without really wondering too much about our hopes, dreams and desires. It kind of helps to put you in your place and remind you that the universe is filled with mysteries – of which we know nothing about.

There aren’t many stories that so seamlessly follow the lives of three separate characters. Yes, they eventually all join up and you find the common threads (like the common threads we constantly find in our own lives). But it’s the fact that even when they are completely separate, the characters are each so beautifully distinct and unique. It is impossible to get any mixed up and you fall completely under the spell of each and every one of them. They are all just so wonderful and intense, with their own somewhat difficult and tragic battles to face.

This is a fantastic story that you just won’t be able to put down. There is a great SciFi aspect to it that is enthralling – the transcripts from Alma that are the discussion of our continuation. But there is also the beauty in humanity. There are the absolute best of humanity throughout this story, and the total dickheads, Rishi doesn’t try and pretend that humanity is filled with the good… but rather a mix of both good and bad. This is a wonderful story that still kind of made me hope at the end. And it’s definitely a fantastic book to be reading at this time in the world… with all of the insanity surrounding us.

<- Farah Naz RishiScience Fiction ->

Image source: Goodreads

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman

Overview
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back (Rogues, #18) by Neil Gaiman

Title: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: London Below, the World of Neverwhere #1.5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 20th April 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: headline
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: What’s it say?

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Synopsis

A Neverwhere short story from one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation – the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning The Ocean At the End of the Lane.

The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.

Thoughts

After reading Neverwhere, I felt completely, intensely, happily complete. It is just one of those stories that you turn the final page and just go… wow. And then break out into a HUGE smile. What I didn’t really think about though was that the Marquis had lost his coat. And, well, really anything much about the Marquis because he wasn’t my most or least favourite character. And then I found this short story at the back of my novel…

One of the most potent things that this short story did for me was to actually make me like the Marquis so much more. He wasn’t one dimensional or anything in Neverwhere, but I didn’t feel any tight emotional connection to him. Not a positive one. And not a negative one. But, showing a little of how he became the Marquis and why made me feel a lot more bonded to him than I had anticipated. It was certainly a pleasant and surprising outcome of such a short story.

The other aspect of this story that I really loved because of the illumination it provided was the Shepherds of Shepherds Bush (I THINK I got that right). It’s mentioned in Neverwhere that you don’t want to meet the Shepherds. And now I completely understand why. Although, I still found it an incredibly fun adventure actually getting to meet them anyway!!!

<- NeverwhereThe Seven Sisters ->

Image source: Goodreads

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Neverwhere Illustrated Edition - Neil Gaiman - Hardcover

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: London Below, The World of Neverwhere #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 12th – 20th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: headline
Year: 1996
5th sentence, 74th page: Oh yes.

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Synopsis

Under the streets of London lies a world most people could never dream of.

When Richard Mayhew helps a mysterious girl he finds bleeding on the pavement, his boring life changes in an instant. Her name is Door, she’s on the run from two assassins in black suits and she comes from London Below.

His act of kindness leads him to a place filled with monsters and angels, a Beast in a labyrinth and an Earl who holds Court in a Tube train.

It is strangely familiar yet utterly bizarre.

Thoughts

As with all Neil Gaiman books, I have heard nothing but good things about this novel. And I bought a special edition in a sale because it was illustrated… which always makes me happy. What I didn’t expect was that this would quickly become my favourite Neil Gaiman book. There is just something so wonderful and fantastic about this story… it’s impossible to forget. And, honestly, why would you want to? I think that the world of London Below is the kind of place I’d be happy living in… for about 5 minutes, and then I’d die…

As an adult, there is one question that I keep coming up against… what is life about? What is it that I want out of my life? Richard doesn’t quite know that these are the questions he’s asking himself, but from the very beginning it is obvious that he isn’t quite living the life that he wants to live. He’s completely lost. Kind of untethered and, honestly, enough to pluck at your heartstrings. And then he meets Door and he is thrust into a whole other level of shit. But, one that actually leaves him feeling like there’s something interesting in life. And, honestly, isn’t that all that we each want? SOMETHING in life that makes it worth living?

There are so many wonderfully intense things about the storyline of Neverwhere. But what I love the most is the world that Gaiman has created. It is a little too easy to imagine London Below sitting just beneath our feet everyday. It makes me wonder what the version of this world would be down in Australia. There are so many brilliant little, intricate moments of change and difference that I just can’t even comprehend. So many brilliant little ideas that seem so damn obvious now that I’ve read them… but at the time, seemed completely, ridiculously far-fetched… I just love the dark, twisted world that Gaiman has created. It’s not the sunshine and daisies version of an urban fantasy world that I normally come across in my books…

Neverwhere is one of the most enthralling and astonishing books I’ve read in a while. It’s not one that you can’t put down (for which I was glad, because I don’t want to do nothing all day). But it is one that will stick with me, and whoever reads it for a long time after they turn that final page. It is an amazing journey, a great story and filled with characters that are loveable – even when they’re the villains.

<- The Seven SistersHow the Marquis Got His Coat Back ->

Image source: HarperCollins Publishers

The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk edited by Sean Wallace

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dieselpunk book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk
Author: Sean Wallace, Jay Lake, Shannon Page, Carrie Vaughn, Anatoly Belilovsky, E. Catherine Tobler, Jeremiah Tolbert, Brian Trent, Rachel Nussbaum, Trent Hergenrader, Gwynne Garfinkle, Genevieve Valentine, Joseph Ng, A.C. Wise, Kim Lakin-Smith, Nick Mamatas, Costi Gurgu, Tony Pi, Cirilo S. Lemos, Erin M. Hartshorn, Dan Rabarts, Mark Robert Philips, Catherine Schaff-Stump & Laurie Tom
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Science fiction, Short story collections
Dates read: 18th March 2019 – 25th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: The gremlins will be inside everything given long enough and they just want out.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

21 tales of anarchic diesel mayhem. 88 From multiple Hugo Award-winning editor Sean Wallace, a new, cutting-edge anthology of twenty-one vibrant stories that explore the possibilities of history, while sweeping readers into high-powered, hydrocarbon-fuelled adventures that merge elements of noir, pulp, and the past with the technology of today… and sometimes a dash of the occult.

Journey into an era when engines were huge, fuel was plentiful and cheap, and steel and chrome overlaid the grit and grease of powerful machines!

Includes stories by Erin Hartshorn, Trent Hergenrader, Tony Pi, Catherine Schaff-Stump, E. Catherine Tobler, Jeremiah Tolbert, Laurie Tom, Genevieve Valentine, A. C. Wise and many more.

Thoughts

I’ve recently started to thoroughly enjoy steampunk. But this was my first excursion into Dieselpunk. And what an excellent introduction this proved to be! I was enthralled, mystified and totally sunk into some of the stories in this collection. And although it might not be my favourite collection of short stories… it certainly ranks up there.

I found this collection a lot darker than steampunk collections. There is just something about Dieselpunk that is a little more critical, and a little less optimistic than steampunk. Or at least, that’s how I’m finding it. Not that that was a bad thing, but this was certainly a darker collection than the steampunk collections and novels that have been filling my shelves lately.

As much as I loved these short stories, I did take a long time to read this collection. Mostly because I had to be in a pretty specific mindset to actually read them. There is something a little less approachable and more intense about this genre that I both loved and also found a little hard to factor into my daily reading schedules.

<- The Mammoth Book of Dickensian WhodunnitsRolling Steel: A Pre-Apocalyptic Love Story ->

Image source: Running Press

The Wings The Lungs, The Engine the Heart by Laurie Tom

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of dieselpunk book cover

Title: The Wings The Lungs, The Engine The Heart
Author: Laurie Tom
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Science fiction
Dates read: 25th March 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Instead Karl and a handful of others were dispatched like jackals along the Western Front, each with a godforsaken contraption to use when a suitable candidate was found.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

They’ve created a brand new way to keep people alive – a Heart in a Box. But when it’s attached to a pilot who was shot down, serious moral, social and ethical questions begin to come to light.

Thoughts

At the start of this story I was a bit “eh” about it. There didn’t seem to be much that seriously was going to draw me in. And I mostly cringed at the whole idea – a heart in a box that could bring the dead back to life. And they chose someone whose heart had been impacted by a bullet… it was a set up for something of a tragedy that I was waiting to find cringe-worthy. It didn’t end up going this way. But at the beginning I did have some reservations.

Yet, after that initial feeling of reservation, I actually found that I really, really enjoyed this short story. The pilot fought to keep his job, yet didn’t really understand the politics. Actually, the whole discussion surrounding politics, PR and the media was kind of fascinating. And probably the most realistic part of this whole collection.

This is a great short story, and a great way to round out The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. I loved this ending. It was not quite what was expected. There was a bit of a feeling of a conspiracy and it all ended on a very open note. But it worked perfectly.

<- Mountains of GreenThe Mammoth Book of Dracula ->

Image source: Running Press