Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2017
This is a fantastic collection of short stories from some of the best Indie Authors that are out there at the moment, all based around Colonisation. Although each of the stories are actually separate, several of the stories have a common theme that Earth has had to be abandoned due to an attack by an Alien enemy known as Empyrean that has attacked and destroyed our Sun – our Sun having given its life in defence of the Solar System. Some of the descriptions of this conflict are pretty outstanding. As for the stories, each of them give their own little taste of some Colonisation experience, and there is some exceptional reading following. For those interested, I have included a mini review of each of the short stories, but at $0.99, there are just too many good stories not to grab this – Enjoy!!
Melt – Felix R. Savage – 4/5 – This was a great start to the anthology. Savage is a brilliant Author who has written some amazing works. In this short, we find a desperate bunch of humanity trying to sort out a relay point on Enceladus, after Earth finds itself being destroyed by an ever growing Sun. Those being chosen for the new colony ships are chosen by lottery, and that doesn’t mean by family group, so families are split up. In the middle of this, the story follows one of the Engineers holding it all together on Enceladus, Gavin, who finds himself entrusted with a young parentless boy, Quinn, who is on a mission of his own. This is an interesting and clever read, much like all of Felix’s books, Melt sets the standard for the Anthology.
Knowledge at any Cost – Jasper T. Scott – 4/5 – Humanity find a beautiful world to colonise, almost perfect, with no carnivores, and these lovely little creatures that they name Pommies, small, round, cuddly white-furred creatures with little stubby wings. The world was wonderfully peaceful and beautiful, until humans – and then they decide that they due to that life span and unique nature of the Pommies, they will make great candidates for eugenics experiments – and this is where the story gets really fascinating and a little terrifying. This story shows the darker side of humanity, the lengths they will go to just to get what they want. However, these things have a way of coming back to get you. This is an extraordinary and interesting read, with a totally brilliant ending.
The Unsung Heroes of Sublevel 12 – Amy DuBoff – 4.5/5 – Amy DuBoff has written a highly entertaining story, but one with a with a lot of dramatic twists and turns, and some rather thrilling moments. Her ‘Unsung Heroes’ are in for a very rough ride in order to not just save the day, but to save the ship and all of those that are slowly being awoken after a long trip in cryo-sleep and are now looking forward to a nice party to celebrate the arrival at their new home planet. However, something has gone terribly wrong with the plumbing on board the ship. To start with, it is not too bad, it is only the immediate crew awake, but as more awaken, and they discover how bad the problem is, our Unsung Heroes are in it deep. They not only have to save the party, but now it could be the lives of everyone on board, and you will never guess the cause…
This was both funny, and thrilling, and incredibly well written – absolutely brilliant.
The Failsafe – Ian Whates – 4/5 – In the 4th of the Stories, the crew that is woken each time to check out a planet and see if it is habitable, awaken on their latest round from cryo-sleep to find that there are a bunch of other armed soldiers awake and on their bridge. It seems that when they reached a certain point without meeting the criteria, a failsafe was set off, awakening a group that would choose a planet that was close enough, and that is willing to kill to do it. Thus begins a thrilling chase and mission in which the actual crew frantically try to regain control. The funny thing is that the ships AI actually awoke the others as part of its programming, but then sides with the original crew, giving them the edge and assistance, however things are not all as they seem.
You need to stick with this story to fully understand it and get the most of out, and it’s worth it.
Fleeing the Fire – Ralph Kern – 4.5/5 – This starts off as a fast paced action thriller, with Humanity fighting for their very existence. It is a captivating start to the short story and quickly draws you in. You learn that Humanity, all that is basically left, is on the run from these aliens before humanity is wiped out completely. Our only hope is to flee, and flee they do. This is one that you have to read and get to the end, because the ending is brilliant.
It is hard to say too much about this story without giving away spoilers, but the story follows a Commander who goes from being a fighter jock to helping save humanity very quickly. There are other characters that are very cleverly done and give the story a real edge. This would make a great full length story, and I have since gone hunting up Kern’s other works as a result – great read.
The Colony of Imago – Scott Bartlett – 4.5/5 – Harriet Vaughn is on board a Colony ship heading to a planet that they one day hope to colonise, again, fleeing a broken Earth. Before departing though, those setting up the cryo-chambers had this wonderful idea of creating a concept in which when they would be sleeping, they would be in a kind of ‘lucid’ dream, able to learn and live a kind of life, similar to that of the colony they would be inhabiting. This way, they could learn valuable skills on the way to the colony rather than having to learn then on arrival, or learning them when awake and wasting valuable resources. Harriet is a part of this simulation when she learns something sinister about what is occurring in the outside world, and it is up to her to save not only those with her in cryo-sleep, but also the future of the colony that they are heading to. Bartlett writes wonderful stories with a gifted imagination, and he has used a similar concept of his ‘lucid’ dreaming process previously in his ‘Powered’ series (which was outstanding and well worth the read). This concept is a really fascinating idea, and something that is probably worth considering beyond the realm of Sci-Fi. As for the story – it is part mystery, part thriller, all Sci-Fi, and totally brilliant – excellent reading!
Spiderfall – Scott Moon – 5/5 – This is the story of Jax and Eva and their away team, the two are best friends, but rivals, just a year apart. They are investigating a planet for its worth as far as colonisation. This is an interesting story in that it is not just about Colonisation and again, Empyrean, but there are some strong Political streams running through this short as well. The characters are very well developed in a very short space of time.
Whilst they are trying to decide if the planet is suitable (discovering a totally creepy alien species), they discover something that causes major issues and intrigue for them on multiple fronts.
This was by far one of the most politically stimulating books of the series, and possibly the most involved for the short story that it was. It would make an exceptional series, and as with all of these types of series (as mentioned), I will hunting up Moon to check out his work as a result of this story. Don’t miss this story.
Colony: Earth – Robert M. Campbell – 3.5/5 – When I first started this story, I kind of expected something a little different, but it was interesting all the same. It follows John, who was born on an Earth that has been abandoned by most of humanity due to a dying Sol, and thus, a dying Earth. During the war that killed the Sun, some aliens were stuck in system, and one of them ends up crashing to Earth, Grawrn. He and John become friends and the story follows their adventures, I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
It was pretty good for a short story, a little bit easy in some parts, and in others it seemed a bit disjointed (we never found out what happens with his parents etc), but overall, it is not a bad story and worth the read.
Howl – Scarlett R. Algee – 3/5 – This is the story of an advanced Scouting Mission to a planet for a colony ship, which is trying to seek the best place on the planet to land. They land in a particular area, and find another ship from an earlier expedition that crashed after being attacked by Empyrean. The advanced crew is made up of several people, one of them has his 9yr daughter in cryosleep with him as a part of his contract, and when they find the ancient crashed ship, he wants to wake her to see it. After she is awoken, she is taken by something, and this is where everything starts to get creepy in this rather fascinating mystery thriller. The story is mainly told by the Captain of the team, and for the most part, the story is very well told and very interesting as it unravels. However, it did not end well, I was really disappointed after the rather intense storyline that played out beforehand, this should have been better.
A Time and a Space – Nathan Hystad – 4.5/5 – This is again one of those stories that you have to stick with until the end, as it does have a pretty cool ending. I really liked the ending as it kind of left it open for a multitude of different possibilities in some aspects, but gave enough so the reader wasn’t disappointed.
It follows Clark Thompson, a man on who is desperate to correct a mistake in his past, but at the same time, must take responsibility for a colony that he is required to run. As a result, he leaves the colony to someone else, and follows his heart, and begins an amazing experiment that leads to a pretty amazing adventure. It also has some fairly interesting concepts of paradoxes, vortex’s and other phenomena that are fascinating and well explained in the short story available. This was a lot of fun and a great read with an outstanding end!
The Light of Distant Earth – Tim C. Taylor – 3.5/5 – Initially I found this a little hard to get into, but once I start a story, I like to give it a go, and generally finish it to give it a proper chance. I’m glad I did with The Light of Distant Earth. The story is told by a Captain who is obviously in a bad way as he has to be constantly prodded by the ships AI to continue to the story and where he was up to. The story he is telling is about Earth Death and Death Day, two events brought on by something referred to as ‘The Blight’, a condition so powerful that it can kill planets and suns. There is no cure. But there is hope. This was an interesting story, and to fully appreciate it, you have to stick with it, it is definitely worth the read, don’t give up hope!
A Change of Plans – Dennis E. Taylor – 5/5 – A colony transport ship arrives with its payload of colonists and equipment, ready to deploy the colony, only to find that the planet that they have been sent to, which was meant to be a paradise planet, has had some form of catastrophic event, turning it into an ice planet. Those that run the transport ship are not too fussed, they believe it is habitable, and therefore, the Colonists can stay, but the Colonists have other ideas – and thus begins a very interesting story. Taylor is the author of the brilliant Bobiverse series, and this shows again just how creative and clever he is. This is a wonderful read, with an outstanding ending to the story, and is easily one of my favourites in this series.
This is a must read collection – these are some of the best short stories on Colonisation. As with all of these type of Anthologies, these are great introductions to the Authors if you haven’t read them already. If you like short stories, or colonisation stories, this is definitely for you.