This is the story of a woman named Cimarron Bell who is serving onboard a spaceship called APEX, which is currently stranded on the far edge of the galaxy, trying to figure out the best route to get back to their home space, while also fighting attacks from the brutal and demonic Mercanti. Cimmarron has recently been promoted to First Engineer, and it’s her responbility to get the ship functioning, and readiy for future space-battles. We get a sense that this responsibility weighs heavy on her, as the APEX had come out on top in all previous battles against the Mercanti, but at heavy cost to ship and the crew, which has suffered heavy losses. We also learn that Cimarron is what is called a Construct. In this future, some humans are genetically-engineered for different purposes, such as surviving on planets whose environments are vastly different than Earth’s, and for living and working in space. These are the humans called Constructs, some with gene-spliced DNA (Cimarron has a mix of Tiger and Oryx, among other animals, in her) and some have cybernetic implants. The remaining “normal” humans are called Baselines. We learn in flashbacks that Cimmarron suffered taunts as a child from Baseline children, and didn’t feel comfortable with who, and what, she was, until a trip with her mother to meet some of her extended family who were also Constructs. But right now Cimmarron is suffering from an ongoing recurring nightmare everytime she sleeps. She is on an hostile planet, being stalked by strange predatory creature. These dreams begin to effect her waking moments, and she exhibits sometimes violent mood swings which become a concern to her fellow crewmembers and superior officers.
This story has all the trappings of classic space opera, the powerful starship, alien encounters, crew conflicts, and techno-babble, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s about confronting bigotry, fighting self-doubt, and facing your biggest fears. Like all of the best science fiction writers, from Asimov to Roddenberry, Geoffrey Thorne knows how to infuse his stories with an emotional touch that resonates with the reader, and this is the latest example of that. And all just for the price of $1! You can’t beat that!
TWO THUMBS UP!