Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Machineries of Mars - Charles Allen Gramlich

THE MACHINERIES OF MARS, the new novella from Charles Gramlich, starts out very much like an Edgar Rice Burroughs yarn, with the protagonist (who has amnesia) waking up on a crippled flier descending toward a vast red Martian sea. The Burroughs influence is acknowledged by Gramlich in the dedication, but it quickly becomes obvious that this isn't a tale of Barsoom. No, this story is set in the far future, following the collapse of a great Terran empire.

Continuing in the classic pulp tradition, though, the hero quickly stumbles into a battle between two forces who are unknown to him, and although he doesn't know what the conflict is about, his moral code forces him to take sides when he sees a woman and child in deadly danger.

Turns out he chose correctly, but not everything is what it seems and Gramlich has some neat twists in the plot waiting for the unwary reader. I have to raise my hand on that count because a couple of them took me by surprise, which is something I always enjoy.

Gramlich has done an excellent job of world-building in this story, and I hope he returns to the setting in the future because it seems to have a lot more tales waiting to be told. The pace is fast, the action scenes very well done, and overall this is a top-notch example of sword-and-planet fiction. If you're a fan of the genre, you definitely need to check it out.


Charles Gramlich said...

Thankee, man!

Cap'n Bob said...

I read it last night. Great rollicking fun and action.

Duane Spurlock said...

Does this story tie in with The Pirates of Themos by Tom Doolan?