Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, July 2018
“Where the Gods Went” by J. Drake
Reviewed by Kat Day
This month Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores contains just one story, “Where the Gods Went,” by J. Drake. It begins when ship’s captain Blackwolf wakes up unexpectedly from suspended sleep. He finds his first mate already up and working, against protocol, and it turns out to be only the first of many strange occurrences. This is a science fiction story with a generous dose of horror, and barring a few typos is fairly well-executed. The descriptions of the horror elements are particularly nicely done; it’s easy for horror to fall into familiar tropes and the author avoids this trap. Personally, though, I found it difficult to engage with all the characters. Several are introduced, including the first mate who, it is implied, has Irish fairy genes, the Cro-Magnon ship’s doctor and an interesting alien race called the Ibs, and none of their arcs quite felt developed. Clearly the author has put a lot of time and thought into the worldbuilding behind this story, but unfortunately it felt as though all the backstory was getting in the way of what is really a fairly straightforward ‘scary stuff happens on an alien planet’ story. There are lots of great ideas in here, and I hope that Drake goes on to give them a little more room to breathe in a longer piece.
Kat Day makes children handle fire and dangerous chemicals for living (it’s okay, she’s a chemistry teacher). When not doing that, she spends her time writing and trying to wrangle her own two children into line (without fire or dangerous chemicals, because that would be frowned upon). She has had a short story published in Daily Science Fiction, the anthology “24 Stories,” and has a story upcoming on the podcast Cast of Wonders. You can follow her on Twitter @chronicleflask.