Friday, September 19, 2014

Which Way Books #8: Cosmic Encounters

Looks like more space exploration is headed our way, even after a disappointing LSD metaphor that featured far less "UFO" and far more "The walls are melting, again." Hopefully the "Which Way" Series will offer a more straightforward take on the vast cold empty, rather than taking the author's sixties college years and changing the dorm into a spaceship and all the drugs into mind rays or the like. Either way, there's every reason for optimism, as this series didn't disappoint in the horror genre. Can it do science fiction? Let's dig in.

It's like they couldn't decide if it would be an android or a robot and the end result pleased no one.

The prose is right to the point, wasting no time blandly spitting out the crazy. I'm a astronaut. I don't age at a normal rate thanks to an ability to directly control the heartbeat (if you think breathing manually sucks, imagine that). Doctors, presumably, hate me. I can communicate via "electrotelephonic waves." The book does not in any way dwell on the massive societal and personal implications of all this. After all, we've got a Universe to explore!

I blast off in a rocket, destination the "Olympus Galaxy." Of course it's a solo mission, because crushing solitude will help fend off the good old space madness. This must be a government sponsored rocket, because things go wrong almost immediately. I've got to repair a fuel cell on the outside of the ship. While messing around, my "lifeline" breaks. I haven't even reached the first choice and it already looks like I'm going to be a beautiful corpse endlessly drifting through the vacuum. 

"Help me, Sandra Bullshit!"

Somehow I manage to cling to the rocket and make my way back inside. Well, glad that's over. Of course I promptly fall asleep because there's no better sleep aid than nearly dying a horrible death. When I wake up I discover that the ship has drifted off course. Next thing I know a "bright object" is on a collision course. Yeah, looks like that madness is having a pretty rapid onset this time. Maybe I should have taken a class on retaining my sanity while out there instead of that electronic wave thing.

To make a short story about the same length it turns out it's a "craft" and I get swallowed up. Yeah, it's probably time for the probing/space zoo/dinner table. I meet three identical looking people, because space is all wild and crazy and man, I don't even remember which pills I took. 

The truth is arguably even more amazing than what I'd been anticipating. It turns out this is a "mother ship" peopled entirely with clones created from a single human cell. They need another person to create more Humans by Xerox and it looks like I'm it. 

Imagine, if you can, a whole field of identical looking sheep.

I decide to convince them that I'd be a poor candidate for this operation. After all, I nearly got myself killed screwing around with a fuel cell. Actually, instead of pointing to my dangerous ineptitude I argue that I'm a unique and special miracle and it would be bad to have copies running around. They have little sympathy for this concern, declaring that their motto is "Uniformity is Strength." I try to appeal to their good nature but am told to get into a chair. Naw, no way. 

This leads to my horrible death, but at least I don't have to live to see my genetic material passed on, which is every man's worst nightmare.

I'd say this one was decent. Instead of hallucinogenic nonsense we got heavy-handed political commentary so call that one a push. Descriptive writing is not this author's strength and there was a certain bland matter-of-factness that clashed with the subject matter. Still, I'd say it's worth a look. 

I was trained in rhetoric by the internet.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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