by Louis Bertrand Shalako
All Rights Reserved
'The Case of the Curious Killers.'
When a recently divorced Brendan Hartle sells up and moves to Toronto, he has no idea what a cosmic sea-change his life is about to take. Working as a security guard, first at a mall, then on a strike, he has the sense of waiting for something. Working an overtime shift, when he finds an unlocked door on an aircraft hangar; he goes in and finds a very efficient-looking spacecraft in there. He just can’t help himself—he has to look inside.
A simulacrum, a kind of mechanically-projected persona; invites him to take a little trip to the stars: it seems he’s mentioned by name in some ancient prophecy. While poo-pooing the actual Prophecy, the Empire feels he may be useful as a public relations or propaganda exercise. They also want to see what he can do.
Whether he’s learning to fly an advanced Imperial Scout vessel, flirting with a Princess; or caught up in the music of the Deadly Dancers; Brendan keeps an open mind to all he sees around him. His skepticism keeps him sane, his basic aggression keeps him alive long enough to solve the mystery.
He really is a kind of revelation to the Centralian Empire. He chases pirates and dukes it out with jealous suitors. He ambushes and blows away the hit men sent to kill him, escapes from every trap except one: the trap of love. In the end he falls in love with an alien slave girl; finding her vulnerability during the moulting process irresistible.
Together, they represent the start of a whole new race of men, and the book winds up with the two of them together, she’s pregnant, and they decide to call the child 'Star Seed.'
Perhaps less ambitious than previous works, the book is action-packed, the pace is good, and the people are real. The dialogue rips with wit and satire, the characters have clear motivations, and the whole thing is just a heck of a lot of fun.
It is entertainment, and excellent value for the money. The book is not overloaded with science, quirks and quarks and splitting hairs. It’s fun, pure and simple. The economical style of writing hearkens back to Amazing Stories of the 1930’s, where the focus is on action, character, setting, and imagination.
Author's Note: I hate the dreaded three-page synopsis, and quite frankly I try to squeeze it into one page single spaced. The only thing I can add would be the characters' names and that the science that is there is either accurate or a clear parody of something 'real.'
Basically, the guy is Brendan Hartle, the girl is 'Layla,' and the simulacrum is 'Sim.' There are probably thirty, maybe forty named characters, many of them aliens, in the book. In terms of parody, the crustaceans and avians are fun to work with.
(Remind me to learn how to write a synopsis. And a query.)