Monday, April 20, 2015

Deep Shell by Paddy Kelly

I went through a short story phase recently. One of my finds was this piece by Kelly

Four decades ago, five space ships crash landed on planet of water. One sank into the depths of the vast ocean surrounding them while four landed on the surface of a massive animal they call the Behemoth.

Harkel’s job as a surgeon is the keep the Behemoth well. When the flesh cracks, forming dangerous lesions, it is Harkel who ventures literally into the beast to sew them back up. It’s a lonely job. His talents might be necessary, but they do not endear him to community he lives in.

And lately the job has gotten tougher. Fleshquakes are happening more often. As Harkel climbs down into the latest one, he has to rescue surface dwellers who have been swallowed up by the gash in the Behemoth’s outer layer. One, a woman, doesn’t want to be saved. Harkel tries to calm her down, but she pushes deeper into the Behemoth and disappears. When he files the report, the top brass turn up with an all new task for him.

The fifth ship didn’t sink into the water. It’s inside the Behemoth. There were survivors and they want Harkel to find them.

At first glance, this story sounded really farfetched and gross. They are living on the outside of a mammoth sea creature that never dives. Yuck. Once I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised. The author does a fabulous job of telling us exactly what we need to know to get through this crazy world he’s built for us. The medical and biological details as the surgeon Harkel does his job are spot on and none of those details are there to provide gratuitous gore. The direction the story took toward the end surprised me. I had one of those “Wow, that’s such a cool idea,” moments.

Well worth a read for fantasy and scifi fans.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daniel's Fork by Zeece Lugo

The modern world has collapsed after an apocalyptic plague. People struggle to survive, clustering into groups to rebuild what life they can. An old fashioned Feudal form of governance forms a safe place for a very new age kind of people to flourish once again. Welcome to Daniel’s Fork.

Commander William Evers is tall, handsome and he knows it. Egotistical or realistic – you decide. He has come to Daniel’s Fork after the death of their much loved leader, Strongheart, to keep the people safe and find a safe home for his family; three friends that have followed him through hell. Three friends he would die to protect.

His new title demands he protect many people, so when a man is murdered his second day in town, Will begins work to eliminate the threat, hoping to earn the respect and trust of the people and military here in the process.

And possibly the trust of the healer, but he won’t hold his breath for that. The woman is annoying,

I have to admit, I expected this story to follow a traditional romance setup. That’s not what this story is. It’s a murder mystery. A pretty good one with a couple of red herrings that were done very well. I thought I knew who the killer was, but I wasn’t sure until the end.

There were more unexpected paths in this story. Commander Will’s love life. He’s a rogue. He knows it. He darn near shouts it from the rooftops. He’s also very good to his friends, which leads us to a quite surprising M/M sex scene. It caught me off guard with this character and then I was like, “Okay we’re going there, but it’ll stop here – nope, it won’t, they’re going on. But they’ll stop at this. Huh uh. This train pulled all the way into the station. It even went for morning bliss. There are friends, and then there’s this guy. Damn.

The characters are fleshed out and put forth with an honesty that doesn’t hide from anything. Very enjoyable read. You know it’s good when you reach for the second book as soon as you’re done. Which I did. I want to know more about these four friends. A tremendous amount of back history is hinted at, and a few tidbits are offered, but I want more. They are very interesting.