Indie Reads in the New Year

Here’s a quick run down of recent indie reads:

Of Stars and Space by Michael Bergman 5/5

Michael Bergman’s long-form short-story “Of Stars and Space” is the best piece of indie science-fiction I’ve read yet.

Though just over 50 pages, it’s a sprawling saga spanning generations telling the tale of human space travel. Brief, interconnected vignettes propel the story forward and then backwards into itself, and are told from multiple POVs, including brief interludes from the point of view of the moon and a faraway planet. I could envision each piece expanding out into a universe unending of fascinating backstories.

Bergman’s simple, clean prose highlights the heartfelt feelings of the characters reaching for the stars. There are shades of Spielberg, Malick, and Nolan in his ability to volley from emotion to mystery to science while leaving plenty of room for each reader to imagine their own personal “what if?”

The Train Set by Huw Langridge 4/5

Very entertaining set of British ghost stories all centering around trains. I especially enjoyed the last story, “Flyers,” which really was more of a novella and bounced back and forth in time building to a crescendo where the characters’ lives intersected in a most surprising way. All in all a great way to spend a few evenings before going to sleep.

Walking on Thin Ice by Robert Burns 4/5

Man, don’t you just hate it when you’re talking to your psychiatrist about unresolved issues with your parents, and they offer you pills to help with lucid dreaming so you can have a conversation with your dead dad, who just happened to be a homicide detective still riddled with guilt over the cold case that got away, and then, of course, your ghost dad/projection asks you to help solve it? I mean, if I had a dollar every time that happened…I’d have a dollar.

Robert Burns’ debut novel “Walking on Thin Ice” is hung on this out-there premise as Sacramento-based cub reporter Rachel Drucker unearths past familial drama and plays out different scenarios in her dreams while trying to solve the disappearance of 8-year-old Julia Brown from 20 years ago.

The original premise makes the generic motions of red-herrings and plot twists go down smooth as the book races towards a suspenseful end.

It often reads like the pilot script for one of those network crime dramas with supernatural elements that were very popular not too long ago – think “Medium” or “The Mentalist.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if Burns turns this into a book series, and the subtitle seems to indicate this.

Reviews by D. H. Schleicher

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