Review of Earth’s Final Chapter: Volume 1, Book 4
by Laura Clark
This captivating anthology offers the reader four more pieces to the ever-growing puzzle of Earth’s Final Chapter. The authors included have truly mastered the short story form; each of them has captured a different snapshot of society after the cataclysm. The stories are so unique that it’s hard to believe each character lives in the same world. In Book 4 of this epic series, we’re introduced to a detective and his mutant friend, a robot trying to get home, the last survivor of a family tasked with guarding a secret hoard, and a Japanese sailor on a mission that can only end badly.
The Next Peace by Rick Staron is about Kilroy, a detective hired to find a woman’s missing daughter. Kilroy is a no-nonsense guy who is not easily intimidated because he can very much look out for himself. Humorous and sarcastic, his rapport with every character he encounters is entertaining. There’s an element of mystery surrounding the missing person and it takes us to unexpected places as Kilroy finds himself entangled with a cult hell-bent on taking down the authority. Through Kilroy’s investigation we are given little hints about the world in which he lives, and the sparse world-building gives Staron’s story credibility. He doesn’t bog the reader down with lengthy descriptions – the world just is, and I enjoyed that.
Perhaps because I am a major sci-fi geek who grew up on an entertainment diet of Star Trek, I have always loved stories which explore the legitimacy, autonomy, and rights of non-biological characters, such as androids and holograms. It is for that reason that my favourite story in the book is The Begetting of Violence. A robot names PIC-R wakes up damaged and low on power. He understands two things: humans are a threat to robots, and he is stuck aboard their submarine, Bullet 1. As the title suggests, the story explores whether he who casts the first stone could possibly be an innocent party, and whether forgiveness over vengeance might lead to a preferable outcome. PIC-R’s determination to reach its own kind in the sanctuary of Homestead makes the reader root for the robot, no matter what it has done.
Buried Treasure is a tragic read about a character whose blind devotion and misguided sense of duty costs him everyone he has ever loved, only to find out his whole life’s purpose was pointless. The story includes death and an extremely toxic father figure but ends on a cliff-hanger offering hope for Victor’s future. Both the quiet and fearful atmosphere and the illustration of Thalia strongly reminded me of The Walking Dead!
Under the Eye of Ra complements the other stories nicely as it shows the devastation that has been done to another continent. Captain Oda Musashi is a Japanese sailor, sent by a member of one of Japan’s Five Ruling Families to locate caches of Morphic Gel, a powerful substance crafted by the Planetary Council. The journey he goes on will surely surprise the reader as much as it did me.
Whilst I enjoyed the stories and will look out for more by these writers, I must also acknowledge the talented illustrators featured in the book. Many of the pictures engage the emotions of the reader and bring life to the settings and characters. From Nicole Slater’s ability to capture the desperation of Victor in Buried Treasure to Bazzan’s stunning use of colour in the final image of PIC-R, the artwork in this book is a treat.