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.

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