Second in the Continuity/Time Police series featuring Kyler Knightly and his uncle Damon Cole, Apocalypse Soon is penned by Garnett Elliott. I liked the play on words – not 'Apocalypse Now', but 'Soon' – which is explained in the text.
The first, 30-page title story sends Kyler and Damon off to Old Vegas, circa 2035. Joining them is Melody Fischer, an aikido instructor – handy to have around in a fight, maybe. A Continuity technician, Paul Dirac, has gone rogue and hitched a ride to Pre-Apocalypse North America (hence the 'Soon' of the title). The Zygma time-travel projector transports Kyler with the aid of a ‘focus object’, something specific to the destination timeline; ergo, it can’t shunt anyone to the future.
Unfortunately, the trio are split up on arrival and separately get involved in a zany demolition derby gladiatorial monster truck contest where the loser faces a mob baying for an excruciating death.
Visual and visceral, it’s a fast-paced ride into Mad Max territory.
The accompanying twenty-page story 'Babylon Heist' takes Kyler to ancient Babylon, in search of another time-traveller who was after a priceless artifact for a collector in the twenty-third century. Why plunder antiquated tombs when you could pillage history itself? To help him get by undercover as Kyros the Eel, his mastoid was implanted with a linguistic chip. Inevitably, betrayal is on the menu. When the two protagonists finally confront each other, their witness observes, “What language are you two speaking? It sounds like goats farting.”
Fast, furious fun.
A final story, unrelated, is 'Strontium Dreams', which takes place in an unspecified future, where it pays to have your tattoo GU (Genetic Undesirable) – otherwise you’re liable to be collected for organ donation to the rich in their ivory towers or, just as bad, minced up for fast food. Sometimes, the mixture doesn’t quite work and a nervous affliction could spread: ‘… when the vendors had been mixing too much nervous tissue with the long pork.’
Two reprobates, Lev and Mac survive, barely, by scavenging. Then they find a secret place, seemingly hidden behind a wonky hologram. Unfortunately, they’re accosted by murderous seven-foot tall lean mean men of the Man-Plus type. (A nod here to Frederick Pohl’s classic novel Man Plus, perhaps).
Some good visuals of a noir world, and good description too: ‘… the figure stirred. He raised his head and his eyes were hallways with no doors and no lights at the end.’ (p67)
Escapist sci-fi with a gory, noir edge. Try it – soon.