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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trouble My Bones

Trouble My Bones (Horror/SF/Fantasy)
By L. Joseph Shosty
Coming in October
Rating 5-Stars

“Well Structured, And Well Written.”

“Morality For Alchemists And Thieves” is a wonderful little yarn about a debt to be paid. Elihu The Poisoner is an alchemist on a trip to meet his destiny, for demons are seeking his life, and one man has proven traitor to him. Stopping at an Inn, the innkeeper tells him that he knows who he is, and seeks his help in a coming matter. Being religious he has refused service to a murderer who is a gangster. The leader now wants to kill the innkeeper. Elihu agrees to remain and meet the leader and his men instead of the innkeeper. He has also promised not to harm anyone.
“An Incident In Cain’s Mark” tells the story of a nephew going to the town of Cain’s Mark to make arrangements to ship his uncle’s body home, and to discover, if possible, what had killed him. He already knew the legend of the haunted mansion, Sallow House, but not the story behind it. One man had been driven mad, however, so he wanted to see for himself what it was about. He learns from the local undertaker the story of the Wickersham brothers, Bertrand and Peter, two genius inventors, one handsome and joyful in life the other short and ugly, and angry in life. How they finally challenged each other to build an electrical man, and how it turned out, and the results that left the village of Cain’s Mark hiding in fear when the night approaches.
“Operational Costs” features Achiles the interplanetary mercenary and his rented robot assistant, Swiss. They are on the planet Bergot, searching for an ancient temple where Achiles was hired to steal the idol.  Like Indiana Jones, the temple has many traps, and the operational costs may be more than the job is paying. There is some nice humor in this one.
“Zombie Love Song” is a short love story from the post-apocalyptic zombie era. A soldier is wounded in the war and meets a lovely medic, falling in love with her. But he never sees her again after she signs up for another mission in the war zone. After the war he tries to find her but discovers she had been bitten and turned, eventually becoming a guinea pig for scientists to study. He writes her a love letter, knowing it will never find her.
“Know, O Emperor” is a tale of our future race discovering an ancient ship from Earth in deep space, its destination Whitehome. Six thousand humans have lain in stasis, awaiting arrival to colonize Whitehome after an exodus from Earth 800 years ago. But everything has changed since they departed Earth, and mankind has evolved from their previous form. Before removing the humans from stasis, they bring in John Pi, a black man of similar human form to those ancient people. One is then revived, and Pi discusses the situation with him. The man wishes his people to be removed from stasis so he can talk with them. After his speech, they all commit suicide. It was not expected by the modern race, so they try to figure what is to be done, since there were four such ships in the exodus from Earth, and the other three have not been found yet.
“The Hard Part” concerns a Japanese family working on a mining planet who make first contact, but don’t tell anyone. When their job runs late they’re called into the company for an explanation and then tell about the alien contact. Well, that is bad news, for they’re really not the right people to make first contact. John Chapman, a clean cut white man is sent to make the official first contact, and the rest is history, though it tears the family apart. Now that they’ve done the hard part, John Chapman will take all the credit.
“Pair’s Man”: Sam had worked for Mr. Pair for a long time, always faithful, always on time, and never had a bad word about his boss. When Mr. Pair gave his eulogy, he broke down admitting he wasn’t as good a man as Sam thought. But when Mr. Pair passed on, guess who comes to his funeral service?
“Leprechaun John”: The story begins at a drunken party with her friends in a bar with a stuffed leprechaun. From this point the girl goes through life in a drug high, seeing herself in the bodies of others, at different ages, and the horror of a misspent life through all periods. This one was really hard to get into, but I suppose the moral of the story, perhaps, is awakening at birth knowing what your future is going to be. Not a good prospect for some.
“The Crippled Sucker” concerns a poker game on a fast train headed for the mining camp on Whiskey. Prince, Gomez, Lucky, Dobro, and new man, Brown were playing cards at the table. Charlie, a robot is dealing. Brown has the crippled leg, but someone is cheating. There are too many tens in the deck. This was a nice entry, with a neat twist.
“An Offering At Midnight”: Mr. Wood takes young Sonny Crane with him on the drive to herd horses to market. The life of the cowboy is dying, and progress is coming, but they stop along the trail so Mr. Wood can leave an offering for something.
Here are ten fascinating stories to tell at campfires on dark nights. From zombie war to first contact with aliens, and settings in the old West, as well as faraway worlds and haunted houses.  The stories are well structured, and well written, some with a touch of humor, some with horror, and all with an interesting outcome. Personally, I found the first three stories the best, with my favorite being Operational Costs. The story I least liked, perhaps, was Leprechaun John. Good pulp yarns that could have appeared in Weird Tales or one of the weird menace pulps eighty years ago. Written today with modern sensibilities. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


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