CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 18. . . .January 11, 2013
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2012.
153 pp., trade pbk., $9.95.
Grades 9 and up /Ages 14 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
"All hands on deck! All hands on deck!"
That urgent call failed to disturb the syncopated rhythm of two persons breathing in a darkened cabin.
"We've been screwed, dammit!"
Certainly somebody had been. Seth was heavily entangled in soft, smooth arms and legs, two of each, in a soft, warm bed. Whoever it was smelled nice, was alive, gently breathing. Do it again soon, not yet... He sank back into sweet nirvana.
"Captain, hear this!"
"Captain here," Jordan muttered in Seth's ear, her voice still thick with sleep.
"Jordan, there's a freaking flag on the planet!"
That was the voice of First Officer Hanna Finn, who had the watch. Who was so virginally prim that she never, ever used words like "dammit" or "screwed." Was unheard of. Seth forced one eye open: the wall display showed 401:01:14.
Wildcatting originally meant hunting for oil and gas "out among the wildcats," far from any known fields. (from the author's note) Prospectors in the far future may have to search beyond Earth for their chance at wealth: new chemicals, minerals, pharmaceuticals. The Golden Hind is an independent starship trying to beat the big corporations to a newly discovered and unexplored planet that lies fifteen hundred light years beyond our solar system. After traveling for 14 months confined in a tiny ship, they celebrate their arrival in the vicinity of the planet they call Cacafuego, only to be roused from a drunken sleep by the news that there is a warning beacon in orbit around the planet. That means someone has beaten them to the prize after they thought they had a head start over any opposition. What is even more puzzling is that the beacon is glowing yellow. A beacon staking a claim on a plant is green, a yellow beacon indicates danger and that the planet will be recommended for proscription.
The crew of the Golden Hind consists of two men, two women, and two hermaphrodites, plus the Ship's Cat, Whittington. Of course, rather than turn back, the crew decide to approach Cacafuego with caution. They first attempt long range scans of the planet to discover why someone would want to warn explorers away from the planet. Severely tilted on its axis, wracked by hurricanes and violent storms, and with a gravity 1.6 times that of Earth, it is obvious that the planet is a very dangerous place.
Seth Broderick is a born adventurer, the ship's lone prospector, whose burning ambition is to walk on an alien world. He also wants to strike it rich. It is up to him to convince the others to allow him to descend to the planet's surface, a difficult job, especially after they discover people may have already died in a similar attempt.
The tale is of topical interest as a consortium was recently announced on the news discussing their intention to investigate mining on asteroids, etc. From an author who has experienced life as a wildcatter, this is a story laced with mystery, greed and passion as the different characters interact and the adventure plays out. Well-written, and inhabited by interesting characters, Wildcatter takes up 153 pages plus author's note, a list of other books by the author, and four pages listing other books from the same publisher. It should appeal to readers of adventure tales, science fiction fans, and those who might be interested in taking a peek at what human life might look like in the future.
Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy in Winnipeg, MB.
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