When People Ask Me For Most Horrific Book I’ve Ever Read, This Is The Book I Name. I’m writing this review literally over a decade after actually reading this book – apparently I either never wrote a review or the places I posted it have lost it over the years. And yet I can still do an accurate review, perhaps even better since I can now speak to the lasting impact of this book. This is one that to this day is truly the singular most personally horrific book I have *ever* read. It produced nightmares for *years* any time I thought of it. And that is exactly what makes it so great. It is truly one of those books that will haunt you in unexpected ways and places, and this was one of Robinson’s (then going by Bishop to try to protect his Robinson scifi brand) *early* works. His newer stuff is *even better* – and yet this one was so phenomenal I can remember details of it a decade later. Though to be clear, this is one that if you’re not as steeped in conservative evangelical American Christian thought as I am (and was *just* leaving when I read it originally), perhaps all you really get from this is a kickass balls to the wall scifi horror thriller. Which is still awesome in its own way. But if you’re familiar with that thinking, if you’re familiar with Dante’s Inferno or the 18th century retelling known as Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God… be prepared for another now-modern retelling of a lot of the same ideas. Truly phenomenal work. Very much recommended – with the lights on. 😉
LONG – And Still Only Tells One Part Of The Story. The biggest thing I was left with at the end of this book was whether I was satisfied with the tale here – and thus the book should get the full 5* rating- or whether I thought it was a cash-grab that only told one part of the story and demands money to get the rest of the story (which I’ve seen in other books and written about in other reviews, though I note here that neither of these refer to books from this author) and thus should get a star deduction. Obviously, I ultimately sided with it being a complete tale *so far as it goes*, and I personally would love a sequel that picks up moments after this book leaves off.
As to the tale itself, think “Dead Space” or maybe a touch of the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 or any number of other movies / tv shows / games / book / etc where our main characters wake up already in a survival situation… and things only get more horrific from there. Here though, we also get almost disaster movie type setup with a bit of the “normal life” of each of our crew members before they are sent on this particular mission, and this both helps ground the characters and serves as a touch of foreshadowing of how the tale plays out. The horror is real and visceral, but of a type that if you have your internal “blood filters” set, you may envision at least somewhat less carnage than others who envision the more complete “Mortal Kombat experience”. And as horrific as the physical horror is, the psychological horror here could be said to be even worse – yes, this book goes *that* deep. Ultimately, if you like any of the franchises I’ve named here – and I’ll even drop in the original, space based, Aliens movies here – you’re likely going to enjoy this book. If you like visceral survival / horror type space tales, you’re going to like this book. Again, I truly do want a sequel here, so I’m hoping either Wellington is already planning that or sales/ outcry is enough that we get one. Very much recommended.
Excellent Collection of Darker Scifi Stories. This collection does a great job of spanning a wide range of scifi types and styles, from noir/ hard-boiled detective chasing a mysterious object to concerns about the space race/ nuclear testing to AI to haunted houses to mind-bending psychological thriller, and several others to boot. While Schwaeble uses “dark fantasy” on the cover to describe what is here, to me “fantasy” is more swords/ sorcery level, and the closest you actually get to that in this collection is some stories having a touch of the paranormal to them. Otherwise this is solid scifi/ horror, and great for those “mood”/ “seasonal” readers looking for something a bit darker/ spookier in October. Also great for fans of the Twilight Zone and Hitchcockian suspense, as these stories are right there in that vein. Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads review:
The Master Turns To Horror. With this book, Jeremy Robinson – The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction – again attempts a horror book… before bringing it back to the scifi action that is his bread and butter. He first establishes a loveable galoof of an anti-hero: an Army veteran who has PTSD from his experiences in Afghanistan who can’t quite fit in with his suburban civilian “normal” life. Then, he begins building in the mystery and the horror, slowly ramping it up to truly horrific levels across several different types of horror, finally culminating in a truly utterly horrific sequence that, arguably, hard core fans of Mass Effect who are familiar with Mass Effect 2 in particular may be at least somewhat jaded to. And then, the actual scifi action conclusion – almost as though Robinson has made us see hell, and now wants to leave us on a more interesting/ happier note. Long time fans of Robinson may see at least a few similarities to his 2010 “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” retelling, TORMENT, though for me that particular book was so horrific *because* it was essentially a modern day version of that famous sermon (which was, in itself, essentially a then-modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno). For those like me who literally had nightmares for *years* after reading that book, I can tell you that this one isn’t anywhere near that bad – at least not in the same ways. It truly is utterly horrific in a couple of sequences in particular, and these new horrors may indeed haunt your nightmares for quite some time. But dammit, that is what makes Robinson the Master. 😉 Very much recommended.