No Way Home: Stories From Which There Is No Escape Curated By Lucas Bale With A Foreword by Jennifer Foehner Welles
I am not sure how I stumbled on this book, all I can say is that it sat on my Kindle for quite a while before I was finally Able to get to reading it.
No Way Home is a collection of short stories that are well founded in hard science fiction all involving characters that find themselves in situations that leave them stranded far from their homes for one reason or another. The collection contains seven stories that are quite diverse in their settings. Here is a rundown of what the reader will encounter in this collection…
- To Sing of Chaos and Eternal Night by Lucas Bale: A nameless soldier has had his consciousness uploaded into a heavily armored and well armed machine fights in an endless war. He dies over and over again with no hope of ending a conflict that if lost would see the end of human civilization.
- XE, or People Are Crazy by S. Elliot Brandis: A volunteer astronaut is sent to a distant planet to explore and determine that it is suitable for human habitation and colonization. All he has to do is send a signal that is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ back to Earth and then he will be free to live out the rest of his life in peace and quiet. However, there is nothing peaceful or quiet when he discovers that he is not alone.
- Grist by J.S. Collyer: After a series of war, a once green and living place becomes a place that the protagonist is eager to escape from.
- Revolver by Michael Patrick Hicks: A young woman who has nothing left to live for goes on a bizarre crowdfunding show to raise money for her family. The audience is out for blood in this dystopian story and the young woman delivers, in spades.
- The Happy Place by Harry Manners: A man and his family are relocated to Mars from his home in Nebraska. When the commander of his small colony goes off his rocker, their existence is threatened. In order to keep himself from going insane, he has to make regular visits to The Happy Place where he is grounded in reality.
- Renata by Nadine Matheson: In the year 2049, an assassin is given an assignment to kill someone who has been dead some twenty years. Thanks to a rediscovered time travel project, he is able to travel back to 2014, but if he fails, he will be stranded creating a paradox that might result in his death.
- Cold Witness by A.S. SInclair: A radio engineer working at an abandoned military base finds that as he explores more and more of the facility, be begins suffering from time shifts, and hallucinations to the point that he cannot tell reality from his dreams. What is his actual reality?
As I read this collection, I found that I was really enjoying the stories because of their complexity in such a short time to flesh out a complete story. The above listed authors are very skillful at cramming so much into so few words that if one blinks, one might miss some important thread of the story. When I was forced to put a story aside, I found that I had to re-read a great deal because of the detail contained within. These stories are not a casual read and will require the full attention of the reader.
I think my favorite of the stories was Revolver because of its utter absurdity to what things should be like but actually are like. The young woman is someone who has made many mistakes in her life and is expected to simply kill herself on live television. While this is happening, people are pledging money to egg her on and there are some very horrible people sending comments over the internet that include some very nasty name calling. The absurd thing is that the reader might be horrified at what is contained in this story, but on the other hand, being involved in social media myself, I can completely see the story being far closer to reality today than the fiction that is intended by the author. It is disturbing in that Hicks, seems to be holding up a mirror to our society and it has a filter that shows the ugliest parts of modern social interaction full of bigotry, hatred, and indifference.
While that one may be my favorite of the collection, the rest are equally compelling. I would recommend that this book is worth a look for serious Sci-Fi readers that are looking for a real roller coaster of a read.
Well, there it is…