Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: LARC Transmissions: Tales from the League of Atlantis Reborn Colonies

In S. Shane Thomas’ LARC Universe (short for the League of Atlantis Reborn Colonies), humanity has found the legendary city of Atlantis- and it turns out it's actually an ancient starship! By reverse-engineering the craft’s technology, the peoples of Earth build several massive space arks and launch them into the open sea of the galaxy to find new homes for humanity.

LARC Transmissions is an anthology of more than forty short-short stories chronicling some of the adventures of the LARC colonists, along with other denizens of Thomas' universe.

Through the course of the journey we the readers learn of the first rulers of the galaxy- the dragon-like Anunnaki (frequently shortened to Anki) and their created servitors, the shape-shifting Nephilim who brought knowledge and civilization to ancient man in the cities of Sumer and Babylon- though their motivations were far from pure altruistic desire to uplift a young species, as we soon learn.

We also explore newfound worlds alongside the colonists, discovering a diversity of alien beings. Thomas clearly has an eye for speculative biology as we meet among others: telepathic, walking carnivorous plants; microscopic beings traveling inside mobile cities that resemble yellow anteaters; “ghosts” made of dark matter; giant intelligent crustaceans beneath the ice of Enceladus; and more.

At least one of the LARC ships is also the home of some serious experiments in genetic tinkering by the brilliant, but somewhat morally-ambiguous Dr. Erin Jeffries. The doctor gives us human protagonists who have been supplemented with the ultra-resilience of tardigrades along with men and women granted immortality through genetic hybridization with Antarctic krill, plus a few other genetic marvels.

The sweeping canvas of LARC Transmissions recalls Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles whilst the frequent sketches of alien biology bring to mind Olaf Stapledon’s Starmaker, or the Planetary Odyssies of Stanley G. Weinbaum. The stories of the Anki and Nephilim, meanwhile, are a good mixture of ancient mythology and the classic science fiction trope of Ancient Astronauts.

Despite the short length of each tale, they manage to build together into an engaging narrative, and even the few stand-alone tales provide an interesting glimpse into as yet unexplored regions of the galaxy.

Whether you have read Thomas’ other books or not, this anthology is an excellent journey through the universe that he has created. You can get a copy of LARC Transmissions on Amazon. And check out Thomas' website here.

Review: The Unaustralians by Oskr Wyldkat

Max is pissed. About what she’s not exactly sure. She just knows shit’s not right in the world and she wants to bring it all crashing down so everyone can start again. The depression-induced suicide of her friend Box is the final push that sends her off on a trip along the southeast coast of Australia with her pothead boyfriend Henry in tow to find... again precisely what she doesn’t know. But she knows she’ll discover it eventually among the ecofighters, energy-breathing hippies, techno-ravers and other counterculture “freaks” she and her boyfriend meet along the way. Or maybe she’ll find the will and way to make everything finally go up in a big fireball when she joins up with the probably-psychotic, definitely dangerous Jenny Mental.

Or maybe not. Max really has no idea.

The Unaustralians is part Catcher in the Rye, part Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with a bit of Fight Club’s ennui-driven violence mixed in. Oskar Wyldkat’s prose is quick and quite beautiful at times. The plot meanders about quite a bit, but then so does Max. She encapsulates well the aimlessness and desire to “mean” something (along with the naiveté and, well, dumbass-ness) which is the plague of most young adults.

The ending comes rather abrupt. It does, though, feel like a fitting denouement to Max’s search. I hope there will eventually be a sequel. But then again, maybe it’s best to leave her at this cliffhanger...

You can get a copy of the Unaustralians on Amazon.