Doc Good’s Traveling Show
Bad Moon Books
Review by Nickolas Cook
It’s not easy to write a compelling western/sci-fi/apocalyptic story in a novella format, but wunderkind author Gene O’Neill is an old hand at writing stories that keep you turning the pages to a satisfying denouement. His past works – The Burden of Indigo (2002), Shadow of the Dark Angel (2003), The Grand Struggle (2004) and White Tribe (2007) – have all managed to challenge the reader while remaining true the one golden rule of great writing: tell a good story.
In Doc Good’s Traveling Show, we meet two brothers, Benjy and Littlejoe, with extraordinary psi-talents who decide to leave behind their safe and lonely homestead to join a futuristic sideshow (well, we’ll call it futuristic, but O’Neill has simply moved the old west medicine show into a strange and somewhat dismal future world of mutants and humans). There they find loyalty, love and fortune. They also find mutant discrimination, death and social repression brought about by an oppressive and shadowy military/bureaucratic authority.
It’s obvious O’Neill is a fan of the old oat operas of bygone days and his love for them comes through in this story. But he also gives us a glimpse into an uncertain human future, where radiation has mutated a number of the folk who people his world.
O’Neill smartly stays away from trying to give too many details on how we got to where we are, but spends that time wisely on creating believable characters that we care about when it’s all said and done.
Give this book a shot if you’re fans of post apocalyptic fiction. It’s a great little world to get lost in and O’Neill is a wonderful tourguide.