The Mutagenic Cycle, from author James Michael White
A thief discovers the drug he stole is more than merely mind-altering, and the designer from whom he stole it more terrible than humanly possible … love and betrayal clash in a world in which the only escape from slavery is to become inhuman … one man provides hope to a world devastated by genetic catastrophe.
A down-on-his-luck journalist interviews a man who may be a god, a kook, or the perfect solution to a life of misery … a group of intrepid explorers touch the edges of space only to discover ancient terror … a man discovers disturbing hidden powers behind human motivation.
There is a stigma around science fiction that ALL of it is just dumbed-down, mindless escapism. What White does so well in his short story collection is create a sense that science fiction can really be story-driven while showing literary prowess. His characters are deep, his imagery vibrant. There is a feeling that you are trapped inside his settings, unable to leave until the story is finished. I could easily equate it to Philip K. Dick. It’s dark, almost to the point of a cyberpunk throwback. And there’s a noir feel to it. All-in-all it’s just great writing. My only reason for not giving five stars is that all three of the stories in The Mutagenic Cycle seemed unfinished. There was closure, sure, but still felt unresolved in some way. I suppose that’s a testament to the author. These characters are too interesting to be stifled into 10k words. Will we be seeing any of the stories developed into full-length novels?