Redstone Science Fiction #1
“Raising Tom Chambers” by Daniel Powell
“Freefall” by Peter Roberts
Reviewed by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
A new monthly e-zine featuring two fiction stories per issue, Redstone Science Fiction opens its first issue with a bang.
Daniel Powell’s “Raising Tom Chambers” is a fantastic tale about the last survivor of a cruel flu which wipes out the Earth’s population around 2019. The sole survivor is Penelope Crump, who finds herself alone and isolated against a group of leech-like aliens called Astras. Having invaded the Earth to live off its population before the flu epidemic, now Penelope is their only hope for survival, but she successfully fends them off until, one day, she wakes up with a single Astra attached to her ribs.
At first, she does everything she can think of to rid herself of the alien; trying home remedies, pulling and prying, etc. But somehow, she becomes fond of him and even names him Tom Chambers, after the player on a 30-year-old playing card which blew across her path as she left a shelter the day she discovered she was the epidemic’s sole survivor.
Penelope and Tom form a unique bond, as she tracks his growth and even communicates with him through feelings and internal impressions. Then one day, Penelope gets sick and Tom along with her. After cutting herself on a rusted food tin she’d been using as a planter, Penelope finds the wound won’t heal. After a week, the wound seeps fluid and pus, so Penelope sets out to find medicine.
Penelope’s character is well developed and the story is quite moving. The reader gets a good sense of not only her isolation but her bond with Tom. The story definitely took some twists and turns I hadn’t expected and was a very enjoyable read. Recommened.
Peter Roberts‘ “Freefall” is about the survivor of a space accident who wakes up disoriented in a life support tank where she’s been placed in order to heal from her injuries. As she tries to piece together vague memories of the accident and where she is now, she recalls brief questioning, a need to warn the others, and fights the urge to panic.
There’s not much character development here, as, except for brief snippets of dialogue, we don’t meet other characters. We spend most of our time inside the mind of the narrator, and that is a confusing place to be. Although the prose was strong, this story was a let down after the wonderful story before it. It was very short and didn’t seem to go anywhere. It left me with a lot of questions and no answers.
Redstone Science Fiction can be found online at http://redstonesciencefiction.com . Issues are available for free download as PDFs or can be read online.