Ginger Nuts of Horror
Allow me to make a confession, and you can just drop those pebbles in your hand, pal!!
I am not a big fan of science fiction. I mean the "Laser gun/space ship/computery-beep-boop-beep!"stuff. So when this came to my doorstep and I read the back copy, I cringed. It sounds so damn science fiction...and it is. But, I was wrong. Really really wrong.
Paige is a student invited to participate in a salvage mission, to find and bring back a mythical ship called Manifest Destiny. She has never been off the space outpost where she was raised and longs to experience other things. I can't begin to boil down the heady plot other than I will say that as far as world-building goes, Stephen Kozeniewki has hit a grand slam here. I mean, the details of the incredibly bleak and interesting world are amazing. Simply staggering!
I'll touch on some other things that come into play here: We have a cast of entirely women, not just on this mission--but in the whole world. There are no males. We meet a band of pirates called "Skin-Wrappers" who are so ghoulishly bizarre that I have still not stopped picturing them and I finished this book two months ago!? We have the flesh world, a living planet-sized organism, wherein the blood is an oceanic entity, brimming with life of its own--the titular critters, The Hematophages. These psychic space lampreys are vile and smart and they are not to be taken for granted.
All of this wraps around itself and what you get it a Russian nesting doll of 80's pulp inside of hard science fiction inside pointed and pretty fucking spot on social commentary, all in a highly unique and entertaining package.
Buy this book. Read this book. It's fantastic.
The Hematophages is available from Sinister Grin Press
Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind. Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld. Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort. But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.