Daniel M. Benson
“When Japanese nature show host Daisuke Matsumori finds himself on an alien world, he hopes to rekindle his passion for his work. Travelling through a newly-discovered wormhole in the Papuan highlands, he joins biologist Anne Houlihan on Junction, a patchwork planet of competing alien ecosystems. When their exploratory party crashes in the alien wilderness, Daisuke and Anne try to lead bickering soldiers and civilians back to civilization alive. As they trek across one unearthly biome after another and members of the party continue to die, however, Daisuke wonders whether human politics might be more deadly than alien biology. One of his companions might be a murderer.”
As much as I love horror, I also love and adore science fiction. One of my first loves was Stargate, right from the film starring James Spader and Kurt Russell, through to the Stargate Universe. The mere mention of Wormholes, this took me back to a good place. I couldn’t wait to get into Junction.
First things first, I would like to thank the author, Daniel M. Benson, and Flame Tree Press for an ARC of Junction to read in exchange for an honest review.
This is fun filled book of weird and bright aliens, on an even weirder and brighter planet. What’s not to love?
The plot itself is rather interesting, a take on world politics, and how we, as a global nation would react to such a magnificent find. A stable wormhole in the middle of Papa New Guinea, that’s one hell of a find. I found the authors handling of the different nations great, as well as the diversity of the ‘away team’. We have some pompous military leaders who of course always know what’s right. Anne Houlihan, a character I loved instantly, the biologist who isn’t shy about telling the world what she thinks. Then we have Daisuke, a reality TV star, the Bear Grylls of Japan, who has also been sent along on this mission– well he isn’t quite sure why.
It’s an engaging story; I found it fun to read. It held my attention, and I became very sympathetic with the characters early on.
The planet is amazing, I loved all the ‘domes’, the different life, the different atmosphere as it were, the transition from dome to dome was great to read. The author has come up with some crazy aliens life forms, while also keeping it quite simple (if that’s the right term). I think that simplicity of it made it all the better, and more engaging to read. I didn’t have to be concerned with remembering too much detail involving really elaborate aliens, which can take away from a story.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
“He is close. So close now. He Feels it. He feels everything”
Thank you to Grey Matter Press for this copy of Little Black Spots, a short story collection from John F. D. Taff.
The Immolation Scene is up first. This is a very intense story of loneliness and helplessness, emphasizing just how far people are willing to go to feel, to feel anything.
Corey is besotted with Amy, his ex and also his colleague. They engaged in a 6 month passionate affair before Amy abruptly ended it, claiming love wasn’t enough.
Both Corey and Amy have a special, yet dangerous, ability. They can ‘burn’; they both have the ability of spontaneous combustion. They can ignite their flesh, sometimes without realizing. Neither knew of the others ability, until a chance meeting when they cross paths during work. Amy is clearly more comfortable with their ability than Corey, he can’t bear the pain, the burnt flesh, the scars it leaves. The smell of the burning flesh is overwhelming. It’s too much to see, to deal with and to cope with, Amy wants them to be together completely, to burn bright as one, but he cannot commit to that, breaking Amy’s heart.
“How far are you willing to go this time”
“How much are you willing to feel”
Corey returns to his mundane existence, ‘numb’ from losing Amy again. He is lonely, the emptiness eating away at him.
I loved this opening to Little Black Spots, it’s a perfect story examining the human condition and how we are afraid of what we don’t totally understand. We are willing to sacrifice our own happiness, willing to miss out on what could be a pivotal life changing moment, because of fear, fear of the unknown and our innate resistance to change.
I’m looking forward to the next story very much after this one, ‘The Bunny Suit’.
Little Black Spots – https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9781940658841&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20