Here’s the third review in as many days of Volume VII of Spectral’s chapbook series, What Gets Left Behind by Mark West. This latest write-up comes courtesy of Geoff Nelder, who runs the Science42Fiction review blog – however, we reproduce it here in full with Geoff’s kind permission:
“You know that graph of world population growth from the birth of Christ to now? It more or less flat-lines for centuries until the last two when it leaps to the top. This story is like that. There are spikes of danger, followed by plateaux where death keeps pace with life, but the last scene is exponentially breathtaking. Mike and his best friend have the usual teen encounters where schoolboy adventures are spiced with running from bullies, and where rain – ‘windows pebbled with water’ – means a diversion from planned activities. Innocent, and yet building. The reader is treated along the way with added nuances such as ‘… browning leaves teeming with small spiders…’ and the sound of trains dot about in the story like a not-so-hidden link. A metaphor perhaps that Mike is no longer in that town of awful discovery leading to fatal distraction. The story only lasts 27 pages but leaves you with a haunting, yet touching, legacy.
At one tense moment, Mike’s friend asks, “Do animals cry?” Mike doesn’t know, but oh yes, they do. Are there more answers than questions in this story? I haven’t tallied, but I commend this story to all with strong stomachs and a desire to scratch a literary nerve right at the peak of that curve.”
More reviews soon!