Joe Hill

PS Publishing
Novella, 80 pages $25 (approx)
Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn

Of course Joe Hill has done it yet again. Having proved his mastery of the horror fiction short story, the horror/suspense novel and comic books, Mr. Hill handed Peter Crowther an amazing Science Fiction/Horror blend in the form of one of PS Publishing always excellent novellas. What make this title so great is that it can be read as a self contained, stand alone story. Yet, it has within the seed to either expand it into novel length or it can be read a the prologue to an array of tales set within this science fictional universe.

Rather than focusing on the hard, nuts and bolts of Science Fiction, the author has focused on the relationships and human interactions. Gunpowder can favorably be compared to any number of classics of genre and non-genre fiction but in Joe’s capable hands it also stands alone as a short, exciting tale from the pen of a master.

The story unfolds quickly as the reader is drawn into a world where genetically engineered, adolescent boys are hard at work at terraforming a relatively inhospitable planet. They do so, via a mind-skill called known as psyforming. As the story opens their efforts are showing the beginnings of success as the most skilled among them has created a form of saw grass out of barren soil and naturally occurring elements.

The natural pack born mentality of the boys is herded in the proper direction socially, politically, emotionally and toward the culmination of their terraforming tasks by the all important Elaine, presently their den mother and who will soon function as the Madonna/whore companion stirring emotions and psyforming abilities of the boys to their peak.

Into this already volatile situation stew drops the rest of the universe in military form and soon all hell breaks loose when the boys resent this new presence. Soon the boys (and their aptly named fledgling planet) see to it that the rest universe will either continue to ignore them or show them proper respect.

A short, sharp tale that leaves the reader ready to explore further into Mr. Hill’s universe.

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