This short story is a perfect primer for Michael Offutts’ sci-fi series A Crisis of Two Worlds; in particular, the first novel Slipstream. Mr. Offutt states this short story was originally a prologue cut from the first novel; and I’d have to say this is a rare moment for me as a reader where I feel the prologue would have worked for the novel. This was relevant, but not duplicated, backstory information, and it does introduce the eventual main character.
My only critique would be for the author to put this in third person POV and consistent present tense.
I have read Slipstream, and Z.E.R.O.’s account of his origins – and the fate of the alternate world Avalon – is not a necessary read to enjoy and immerse yourself into the world. The author has excellent world building skills. However, If you’ve read Slipstream this will answer some of the questions that occur to the reader; and if you haven’t read the first novel, it is an enticing introduction to the overall series plot.
The Insanity of Z.E.R.O has great voice, time defying forward progress, a personality that grows and changes with the character’s self awareness, and is a mini-story all in itself.
I highly recommend this short story to those who have read any of A Crisis Of Two Worlds novels, and/or to those who want to be enticed into a world where science fiction and philosophy collide to build a unique world and plot concept. I give this story 5 stars as it stands alone or compliments the series plot building.
(review of free book)