Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: Ether Ore (Enclave Publishing, 2011)

As you all probably know by now, I am a huge fan of SF and fantasy.  As such, I was excited a few years ago to find out about Enclave (then Marcher Lord) Publishing, a publishing house dedicated to Christian speculative fiction.  Morgan L. Busse’s books are published through them (Daughter of Light, etc).  Unfortunately, few of their books are available at the local library or even through inter-library loan.  So I was very happy to run across this collection of stories, Ether Ore!  Now I know which of their authors to put on my wish list.

“Armed” – Jeff Gerke
          This SF novella is a parable for men.  A miner strikes it rich, but when he brings his find in to be assayed, he meets a young boy who will cause him to question the reasons for his actions.  As long as you are okay with robot allegories, you’ll enjoy it.  
The first part of the story is strong… but the middle is used as the frame story for the rest of the tales in this collection.  It’s not a strong frame; there’s really no reason for most of the framing material to exist.  The fact that this is partly a frame story also means that you need to read this whole colelction in fairly short order, or you will have forgotten what happened by the time you get to the end.  The final section of the story is also the final element of the book; I would have liked the ending to be more developed, in order to balance the buildup given to the character and plot in “Armed.”

“The Drop” – Steve Rzasa
          This is my favorite short in this collection—a tone-perfect military SF story.  It’s clear that there’s a lot more to this story world and these characters than we get here.  Ben Longstep and his men are as merry a band of soldiers as I’ve ever come across.  If you are a fan of David Weber and Elizabeth Moon, this story is for you.

“The Merak Galaxy” - Jill Williamson
          Short, cute, and utterly without any scientific basis.  

“Graxin” – Kerry Nietz
          Part WALL-E and part I Robot, this is an intriguing story about a mineral-surveying robot that decides to go exploring and finds a strange cavern under the surface of one of Neptune’s moons.  What he finds there causes him to go against his programming in search of a greater meaning for his existence.  Look out for the dark Clarke-like twist at the end!  

“Close” – Marc Schooley
          Once again, we find valuable minerals, greedy humans, a robot looking for meaning, and a dark ending.

“Tableau” – Adam Palmer
          I enjoyed this one.  The author’s voice, the character’s creative response to his predicament… the happy ending.  I look forward to reading more stories by this author!

“Nether Ore” – Kirk Outerbridge
          This story was scary but rewarding.  I really liked the main character, John, who is stuck among cloned miners by day but at night dreams of his family.  Allegorical themes and very creepy villains make this a compelling story.