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All around a great, fun read.
First off, I must admit that I struggle with SF in general and always have. While The Plasm may lean in that direction, I had no problem getting fully engaged in the story and it was not bogged down with a bunch of SF jargon that normally puts me off.
Something has ripped a fissure in this world allowing seepage from another dimension to enter this realm in the form of a glowing blue mist. It is getting more solid as it feeds. Weapons only make it stronger. What was once thought to be an inexhaustible power supply has turned the tables and is now feeding off of us. If the portals are not closed in time, the entire universe may get sucked into The Plasm.
Another solid effort from Mr. Meikle. 4.5+ Ammy Stars
As a member of the Dark Regions Reviewer Program, I received an ARC copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Take a salvage operation in space and mix in a healthy dose of mysticism, with Lovecraftian overtones, and you have a pretty good idea of what The Plasm is all about.
Steve Falmoth pilots a cargo rig in the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. He and his partner, Sam, stumble upon the VORDLAK, lost in space for eighty odd years. The crew is gone, but what they find is straight out of your worst nightmares.
One of the nice things about reading a book by William Meikle is knowing it's not going to be the same as the last thing you read by William Meikle.
Although, a portion of the story is told in journal entries and I often feel that doesn't work, Meikle did an excellent job using this tool to convey key points to his story.
The Plasm was an interesting change of pace for me. A little space adventure with a touch of horror. I think other fans of horror, particularly stuff with a Lovecraftian flavor will enjoy this one.
Look for The Plasm, in a variety of formats, beginning July 29th, 2014 from Dark Regions Press.
At the beginning of the story we are introduced to Steve and Sam, who are both business partners and lovers. Steve is the level-headed workhorse of the two, while Sam is more prone to taking big risks and gambling that the rewards are worth it. These two opposites make a good team and manage to shore up each other's personal flaws. They are a team of spatial contractors, and handle everything from deep-space salvage to asteroid mining. Currently engaged in the latter endeavor, they complete their business and begin heading back to port. While in-transit their ship is rendered inoperative, and dead in the water (so to speak) they rush to pin-point what went wrong. Sam quickly fills her partner in on the bad news; their main drive has blown out, and they're stuck for the foreseeable future. Moreover, seconds before the main drive went out she had heard a proximity warning and the object has been identified as...
The starship Vordlak, which disappeared while on her maiden voyage! Sam is thinking only of the fortune and fame that they will get from finding the long lost ship, and she is blind to anything else. Steve isn't nearly as enthusiastic, and is worried more about the whole 'adrift in space' situation that they happen to be in. However, he ends up giving in to his partner and they begin to explore the Vordlak. The problem is that there isn't any evidence of what caused the ship to go missing, in fact, everything seems to be running normally. Except for the fact that there are no crew on board the Vordlak, nothing seems out of the ordinary. Until you add in that the ship is still fully powered, and that there really are a great many things missing. Such as the supplies needed for a long voyage; or the fact that the automated helpers that would be needed on a ship of this size are also mysteriously missing. After Sam pulls up the ship's logs, they begin to realize exactly what is powering the 'revolutionary' star drive of the Vordlak... and it's something that shouldn't exist in this universe. It seems NASA (and the military group that funds them) have veered quite off the beaten path to 'discover' their new power source.
Meanwhile, on Mars, Corporal Jake Royle is reporting for duty at his post. Said post being a highly classified military storage depot. Things begin on a bad note, when he is ordered to escort two 'suits' down into the catacombs. After they find the items they are looking for, they try to blow them up. Which turns out to be an extremely BAD idea... Instead they manage to unleash something from outside into our universe... Which Jake tries to run from, but in the end, there is no escaping the thing that is that has seeped into our reality. The two narratives eventually come together and the main question is, how will they all survive? All I can say is, 'Tekili Li!' Followed by 'Dhumna Ort!' Quoth the raven, 'You'll have to read the book.'
William Meikle always delivers an outstanding story, and The Plasm is no exception. The feeling of dread is palpable throughout this tale, and as the story moves along it becomes absolutely claustrophobic. Even after the characters discover the source of the otherworldly occurrences, they are given no respite. There is no apparent course of action to follow, no way to contain this incursion. To put it bluntly, they're screwed. Even when the shadowy forces that caused all of this step in, their efforts actually make everything worse. They are hemmed in on all sides, and no one is coming to save them... so they decide to do it themselves (along with one 'expert' on the matter who seems much braver, and smarter, than those who employ him).
William's writing flows from page to page seamlessly, and he handily executes the changes between the various narratives. As I read through, I was on edge and wondering what the endgame would be. I really couldn't put The Plasm down, and the pages just slipped by, one after another. I found myself identifying with the characters, and sharing in their frustrations and setbacks throughout. The way that the author melds so many different genres together is greatly appreciated. William rendered the story marvelously, with plenty of flair and a unique vision. The overall story was engaging, the characters were painted well, and the ending was a thing of beauty. This is an example of a highly professional storyteller and talented wordsmith, doing what he does. Which happens to be telling an extremely engaging story, and absolutely nailing it! I can imagine William as a traveling storyteller and bard, way back in history. Moving from campfire to common house, and on to the courts of kings. Always welcomed, always appreciated, always rewarded. What more can I say? Take a look at The Plasm, and enjoy! While you're at it, take a look at his stories in general. Believe me, you won't be disappointed...