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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cosmic Pathos by Alexander Dregon and PJ Cooper

Cosmic Pathosby Alexander Dregon and PJ Cooper
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Rating 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Geranium

Hope, Dreams, Revenge, and Compassion can make even an Alien seem Human
When a cry for help cannot be ignored or a child cries or evil is made to serve good or the taking the high road leads to disaster, the only thing we can trust are our gut feelings and that goes for humans too.

Alas, as usual, I started reading this fine collection around 10 PM and galopped through the first story, and then, fatally attracted by the mention of the word "attorney" I foolishly decided to check out the next one. I read that one, too. Then, since it was clear I'd need a whole pot of coffee to function in the morning, I read the third.

Don't repeat my mistake. Start reading early in the day.

The first story, Hope, about an alien involved in a space disaster, hooked me right away. I liked the alien heroine, and I rooted for, hoping she'd get rescued. But I found myself disappointed in the way the story played out. While the human who discovered the disaster was well-drawn and the level of technology on both alien and human sides believable, I, for one, hoped for more involvement between them - and a more satisfying ending thant a simple "thanks" back from the aliens. Realistic, yes. Is that the way I hoped the story would end? Nope. I wanted romance or I wanted the two races to meet and become allies. Alas, not in this story. Still, I was very entertained.

The next story in the collection, An Exercise in Revenge, is a light-hearted piece about a mysterious case of murder--or apparent murder--and an attorney who gets involved with alien clients. I enjoyed the fast pace. The plot moved along at a good clip, and the chases involving the attorneyiens were suitably heart-pounding and funny as well. And, I admit, I have a soft spot for lawyer stories. The story is set in L.A. and though I have only a nodding acquaintance with the city, I felt it suited the story, and the way the case played out was both very entertaining and believable.

The third story in the collection also involves a trial, and proved a nice contrast in tone and plot to the last. It involved a couple of alien races, drawn quickly but with enough detail to support the plot. The author handled the central conflict--compassion versus the needs of war--in a manner that allowed me to see both sides while still rooting for the main character and hoping that his point of view would prevail. The strong ending left me satisfied. But best of all, the story played out in an unexpected and very though-provoking manner. I'm still turning the whole thing over in my mind.

My only beef with this collection was its organization. While I found all three stories engrossing reading, and the last one, for me, a home run, I didn't feel that the first story belonged with the other two--and certainly not as the lead story. I believe that a stronger collection would have resulted with the second story as the lead and the third as the final story.

If you're looking for a quick, entertaining, engrossing read, these three stories of aliens and humans will not only entertain you, they'll leave you mulling them over long after you close the book.

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