Glimpsing the future
Review of Short Tales from Earths Final Chapter: Book 3
By Tom Pahlow
While reading Short Tales from Earths Final Chapter: Book 3, I was struck by the sheer range of topics and styles. Each of the four stories in the book was distinct and unique but the thread of a consistent universe was present throughout. Incredible Illustrations by Massimiliano Longo, Leonardo Guinard, Luis Bazzan and Anastasia Nesterova let you see into these worlds and stories.
From the top, The Shadow Agent by Amy Marsden, is a gritty detective story that felt like a mash-up of noir and sci-fi. We follow Jensen, essentially an indentured bounty hunter for the Planetary Council, as he chases down leads on his next target, the infamous revolutionary, Panther.
Jensen’s hunt leads him to Bar fights, street CI’s and combative banter with the aptly named Scarface. Some parts felt a little too easy, like Marsden wanted to wrap the story up nice and neat, but it was a great story, nonetheless. Jensen’s interactions with the quick-witted Scarface alone make it well worth the read and Marden’s imagery puts you right there on the hunt alongside the main character.
Bradley Heywood’s Last Ride was next, and it played like an old western. A trio of odd companions being chased through the desert and into the hills where they must make their last stand. There is grizzled old Dyson, Robot serial killer and memory stealer Codename: J and Butch, a hulking red murder mutant.
Heywood gives us flashes of what led the trio to their situation through memories and snippets of dialogue, some of which confused me. Despite this, Codename: J pulled me in with his musings about the nature of life and what makes us people while Dyson’s mystique and cunning had me thinking of Chris Adams from the old Magnificent 7. If you’re a fan of westerns, you have to give this one a go.
Pirates, a priceless treasure, and a beautiful tropical island filled with local wildlife that is actively trying to kill you and all your friends. If any of these things sound like your cup of tea, then Bunker 787: Blood & Fortune by Azalan Reign and Julian Fernandes is a must.
The mysterious figure, Mack, had to be my favourite and I enjoyed his easy banter with the grizzled pirate Cornwall, even if it felt like they were lacking a sense of caution around each other. Fernandes and Reign did a great job balancing the large cast and I couldn’t put this one down.
To counter the action and carnage of the other stories is Homestead by Christina DZA Marie. A simple story with a big and heart-warming message. There's a new kid in Dalmar’s school and he is from a cannibalistic culture. An extreme premise, maybe, but most of our prejudices can be that extreme.
Although it’s a tale as old as time, from Pocahontas to Dances With Wolves, there’s a reason we keep coming back to stories like this. Two people, from different cultures, learning to look at each other as people, not stereotypes. It’s a beautiful story and unique in its setting and context.
Short Tales of EFC, Book:3, is a great read that shows the range of the EFC series with great stories and incredible illustrations. Everything works together to build a sense of a rich world that captivates and immerses the reader.