The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir
For thirteen centuries Gumdrop Coal the elf has worked diligently and loyally in support of his employer, affectionately known by his subordinates as The Fat Man and by children everywhere as Santa Claus. An original, Gumdrop is highly regarded amongst his peers for creating the Naughty List of children who were not nice so receive a lump of coal instead of a toy in their stockings. In fact he became Captain of the Coal patrol elf unit.
Maybe he delivered one coal to many, had too many artificial sweetened cookies or placed too many nasty kids on the Naughty List though all deserved their placement as an advocate of kick-butt tough love, but Gumdrop is fired from his job. He is irate and fuming insisting no one treats Gumdrop like this. The twenty-seven inch elf turns into a renegade to teach parents to raise their children to remain off the Naughty List. However, his descent into the inferno of hell has not bottomed out yet as a parent is shot to death by a Red Ryder BB Gun that contains Gumdrop’s prints. Realizing he is the victim of a diabolical frame, Gumdrop turns vigilante seeking to uncover who in the North Pole communities set him up and why.
This is fun heartwarming holiday Noir starring a tough tiny thug while part of the enjoyment is the allusions to famous Yuletide movies and books. However, it is Gumdrop the rogue elf who makes this a terrific worthy addition to the Christmas repertoire with his nourish investigation into who set him up to take the fall from the front of the sleigh as the top aide to the Fat Man to exile from the North Pole.
Quantum Theory of Everything changed everything yet changed nothing. The theory led to advances like quantum teleportation whose odds of surviving with all your neutrinos intact and no additions on the ride has been calculated based on empirical data at less than half. Only the desperate or insane voluntarily take that escape route though selected criminals are volunteered by the government.
The planet Belladonna has become the receiving end of the quantum teleportation. The residents are criminally insane or just totally insane. Although the off planet powers normally ignore the human junkyard, the Galactic Police has been notified by Bompasso city Sheriff Heath of a horrific mass killing involving two males and three females as one of the victims is his son Alexander, a clean doctor at City Hospital. Though he knows he is the so called law of this Lawless City, Heath the father demands justice so he needs outside help to catch the SOB murderer. The Galactic Force sends cyborg cop Version 43 to investigate who killed Heath the son, the man’s girlfriend Dr. Fliss Hooper, Andrei Pavlovsky, Jada Brown and Sara Limer. The starting point is City Hospital where Version 43 opens his inquiry with an interrogation of Macawley, an intimate friend of Hooper. Meanwhile several of the local crazies knew the cyborg when he was 100% human and wanted him dead then.
Although Einstein argued about playing craps with the universe, he would have appreciated this strong intelligent science fiction police procedural with a vivid look at a planet used as a dump for exiled humans. Version 43 still makes the tale work with his noir behavior while investigating the mass murders; he proves a cyborg is the perfect cool hand Luke noir detective whether he visits City Hospital, the hologram morgue or the “ballad of Parliament Square. Harriet Klausner
Lucy A. Snyder
Del Rey, $7.99
Mage Jessie Shimmer went to hell and back, but succeeded on her quest to return with boyfriend Cooper Marron and his younger brothers (see Spellbent). However, the cost was exorbitant with the visible being the loss of an eye and a hand. However the invisible price is stratospherically higher for the sorceress who killed a Virtus untouchable spirit lord while in Hades; as even making love turns her abode into an inferno, almost like a barbeque pit, as she has come back possessing fire magic.
Jessie expects the Virtus Regnum to assault her as this beast cannot ignore whet she did. However, Miko the mighty has come to Texas to deal with Jessie. Almost upon arrival, Miko creates a giant bubble that engulfs the town and traps Jessie, Cooper, his brother and her spider familiar inside along with the innocent residents of Cuchillo. Step two in Miko’s scheme is changing the natives into zombies. Hell, she needs to challenge Miko if she and the others are to survive.
The second dark Shimmer suburb fantasy is a fabulous entry as everyone will believe in Snyder’s Spellbent due to the cast. Opportunity costs are incredibly laid out as choosing one has second and third order effects on not just the decision-maker. With a strong mentally disturbed cast that runs the gamut of the otherworldly pantheon, sub-genre fans will want to read the gory Shotgun Sorceress. Harriet Klausner