Black Petals Issue #82 Winter, 2018

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Nowhere Friend-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Broken Image-Fiction by Andrew Newall
Monster-Fiction by Paloma Palacios
Salvation_Fiction by Scott Dixon, Featured Author
Scream-Fiction by Anthony ('Tony') Lukas
Surviving Montezuma-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist, Chapters 13 & 14
The Foundling-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Girl Who Isn't Talked About-Fiction by James Gallagher
Beggar's Curse-Poem by Alexis Child
Marco-Three poems from Christopher Hivner
In Line at the Terminal-Four poems by Michael Keshigian
Ghost Poets-Four Poems by Jerry McGinley
Killer Clowns-Four Cryptid Poems by Richard Stevenson




By A.M. Stickel


Of Dust and Rocks



       Why do so few men know how to write about women? Case in point, two otherwise entertaining and enlightening reads—ARTEMIS by Andy Weir (who wrote THE MARTIAN) and MONSTER (part of the GONE series) by Michael Grant. My hardcover copies were, respectively, $27 and $18.99 (+ 9.5% local sales tax). Thank goodness they can be returned for partial recovery as “used” books…or, more likely, re-gifted.

       I found the heroines of both stories a bit too spunky, pugnacious, and politically correct to be believable, although the writing itself was mesmerizing. In ARTEMIS, set in our first moon colony, the central character is independent, brainy 26-year-old Jazz, who has basically wasted her life trying to get rich enough to make up for the mistakes of her feckless youth. In MONSTER there are too many characters to keep track of, but dominated by young adults like (transsexual) Cruz and Shade, who are part of a group exposed to mutagenic asteroid dust—some by choice and others by evil manipulators.

       Although I enjoyed the (mostly accurate) rock-hard science in ARTEMIS, especially the diagram of the colony layout at the front of the book, some of the character interactions were stilted—perhaps to reflect Jazz’s self-imposed loner status in her tightly-knit community of Earth exiles. Another thing that bothered me was the predominantly warm, friendly male portrayals (except for a cop and a villain or two) vs. the icy, deadly females: dogs versus cats? This read may appeal to chemists, physicists, and engineers more than to folks into biology and social engineering or behavioral science. Of course, the ever-popular presentation of corporate greed looms over at least half the plot…and I, for one, am kind of getting tired of that in fiction. We have enough of it in fact. That said, the ending is exciting, and only appreciated after wending one’s tortuous way through the entire tale.

       MONSTER reads like a scientific manual of horror written in short bursts. The suppositions, to anyone who knows anything about actual mutation, are truly irrational. Here, other-dimensional aliens have sent a message in asteroid form. In the past, child test subjects were imprisoned under a dome (by the aliens?) A few survived and recovered; others were destroyed after committing atrocities. Some bystanders were contaminated. Think: just grind up some of the dust from asteroidal chunks and infect a human with enough for special powers of transformation. The best baddie is an ill-fated government guy, who doesn’t realize what having too much power can do. Oh, honey, we women are too tough and clever for guys like you!  
       Please excuse the lateness of this editorial, friends. And, may I add, Ken Crist’s SURVIVING MONTEZUMA, appearing in serial form in BP, is a way better read than either of those two Best Sellers, at least when it comes to writing about women. Enough said.

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