Jeffrey A. Ballard’s Vacationing Offworlds-Ballard’s Speculative Fiction Collection 1

I received this book for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overall Overview: Mr. Ballard is celebrating his success as a writer by offering us a chance to read some of his short stories. Let’s get this show on the road.

The Bear That Painted the Stars

Overview: In the far future there is a mining accident on a Zhg mining settlement. The Order, the religious organization working with the human government, has sent a team in under cover to find out if human technology has played a role in the accident.

Likes: This story wasn’t bad for a space story. The characters were strong and relatable.

Dislikes: I couldn’t stand Dallic. Yes, sacrificing seven to end a war before it begins was wrong–we don’t turn our people over to a foreign government for punishment, but he murdered someone who trusted him.

Conclusion: This one was okay, but I never liked the idea of sacrificing anyone without their agreement.

The Kerephrine Reaction

Overview: Nira Rosenberg is the chief researcher dealing with the effects of an alien chemical that causes homicidal tendencies in humans, called kerephrine. Unfortunately, there was an accidental release of the chemical in the greater Los Angeles metropolis. How did it get out? And can Nira find out the truth before her brother undergoes surgery in order to become a colonist.

Likes: This is what you get when you cross a painful introvert with a deadly chemical. Nira really just cares for her brother. You can also feel her fear of being left all alone.

Dislikes: Nira seemed to have trouble with admitting that she was having trouble to anyone.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. One along the lines of ‘28 Days Later.’

Voices in the Deep

Overview: Kale is the senior member of a ‘city of refuge’ hydro forming squad. He is haunted by the voices of the living, unlike the rest of the team. Now he has a new recruit who has a secret of his own.

Likes: The whole idea of using the city of refuge law from the Old Testament was a great idea.

Dislikes: My problem came with how the law was applied. First the cities weren’t to be used as a means of punishment. You cannot put someone through the wringer then claim it as ‘Guilty by Divine Punishment’ when he or she snaps. Also there is this important part of the city of refuge law that the avenger of blood was to be kept away from the one unwittingly killed another.

Conclusion: All the action aside, I didn’t care for this story at all.

The Medicine Doctor

Overview: What happens when someone steals the outfit of a dead man? Well, our protagonist is about to find out.

Likes: This story had a lot of hope going for it. Yes, the ‘doctor’ was a scoundrel, but he redeemed himself rather fast.

Conclusion: As long as I have hope, I can handle just about any story. This was a good one.

The Chime-hour Born

Overview: Tabitha is a special woman. Born during the ‘chime-hour.’ As such, she is far more sensitive to spiritual predators than most. And it seems like something else knows.

Dislikes: I just don’t care for stories where evil seems to have the advantage.

Conclusion: I didn’t like this one much.

The Cancer Under St. Paul’s

Overview: A work of evil is stalking the streets of Victorian London. A monster is mangling humans in search of something called the conduit. How many will die before the conduit is found?

Likes: Henry did the right thing by Will. He taught his son a trade that could support Will later on in life.

Conclusion: I can’t tell you much or I’ll give it away. But this is an excellent story. Enjoy the read.

The Highlight of a Life

Overview: Has there ever been a mistake in your life that you wish you could change? Charlie Pearson has been given that chance by a mistake in a multi-verse experiment.

Likes: Charlie handled the accident quite well. For that matter, so did Reuben.

Dislikes: Dr. Benzer. He’d do better on Prozac.

Conclusion: This one nearly brought me to happy tears. A must read.

Human Plopping

Overview: Um…gross.

Conclusion: I repeat: um…gross!

Overall Conclusion: Out of eight stories, I found four that I really enjoyed three that I hated, and one that was gross. Not a bad collection.

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