Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 25
Editor: Jessica West
Publication Date: June 24, 2018
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Canyons of the Damned travels to space for its twenty-fifth issue, showcasing some experienced names in the science fiction field to tell some wonderful tales. These stories feature infighting between the government and terrorists on a space station, a risky mission to deep space in the near future, religious zealots trying to free a force of nature and cyborg mercenaries trying to get away with their prize while under fire. Check it out:
P.K. Tyler’s “Exodus Sol” – Castor is stationed in deep space when disaster strikes and terrorists attack. Believing that the government is trying to control Earth’s expansion efforts, Castor is a part of the Emergency Response Team caught up in this fracas and pulled in both directions. What will he choose when confronted with two opposing points of view?
Castor struggles through the action in a series of harrowing encounters that challenge him morally. Also, the twists and turns of this tale gave me whiplash because of how surprising they were. It’s a powerful and riveting tale with a shocking ending.
Terry R. Hill’s “Deep Throw 1” – Tethered to an asteroid traveling to the outer edges of the solar system, a crew of three women are on a risky mission inside their tiny spacecraft. Facing calamity and unforeseen obstacles at every turn, will they even survive?
All three women, Asha, a doctor, Maria the pilot and Yolanda the engineer, are fleshed out well and their intelligence is demonstrated in how they handle their unprecedented situation. But it’s the science and the details of space exploration that really immersed me deeper into this story.
Using authentic NASA expertise and modern-day technology made this tale come alive, causing the suspense to become that much more palpable in my imagination. The unexpected ending was the cherry on top of this well-crafted tale.
Kevin G. Summers’ “Brethren” – In 2599, Ensign Everett is a space marine who’s caught in a surprise attack on the starship Naronic! Shocked, she discovers that religious zealots have an audacious plan with implications for the entire universe. But can they even be stopped?
The fighting is fast, the stakes are high, the reveals are astonishing, the characters are well-rounded and the world-building is magnificent. It also has an ending that just begs for more. Fortunately, this standalone short story is a prelude to a full-length novel coming out soon showcasing more of the Starship Gilead and this universe.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “Off-World Kick Murder Squad V” – Having found what they came for, the squad tries to escape with a reptilian being called Cerulean Blue, who has some strange abilities. Stymied at every turn by the forces guarding Cerulean, they have to escape by any means possible, but how?
This action-packed chapter continues to exude the pulpy fun of the previous ones while also presenting some intrigue about Cerulean and why the squad was tasked to capture him. More, please!
I’ve previously read stories by all of the authors featured in this collection, so my expectations were high. But my expectations were also met and even exceeded with the impressive storytelling I found here.
Finding science fiction that is fresh, exciting and unpredictable can sometimes be hard to find. But with the Canyons of the Damned series, I know when I crack open the page, I will be greeted with absorbing and compelling short stories that completely draw me into their universes. I’m never disappointed with what I find.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories written by or published by Daniel Arthur Smith include “Klarissa Dreams Redux“, “Spectral Shift“, “Attack of the Kung Fu Mummies“, “Gazer: A Spectral Worlds Story“, “Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, Omnibus 9 & Omnibus 10.”