Spoiler Free Summary: Dead Reckoning by Anthony Regolino is the fourth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Bennett is dead, but that won’t stop him from having one last mission. Bennett’s death is the result of an alien weapon that imitates life, but forces the victim to drift into a vegetative state. When offered a chance at a literal suicide mission, he takes it.
Character: Bennett was sympathetic and proactive, which is why this story moved for me. I understood his motivation and wondered how the story might go. Given how the first part of the story works, that mystery sort of died for me (yeah, I took that pun). My struggle is that I didn’t have a “what was gonna happen” feel for me. Now, I personally hate prequels for the same reason. If I already know what’s happening, I’m just not invested. I think if a writer does enough to make the characters matter, the story might be successful, but I’ve never seen it.
Exposition: This was fantastic. This story moved. Sure, we get a lot of dialogue exposition (This is how you are dead but still walking), but it still came in a natural, conversational tone. So while I may not have been on the edge of my seat wondering how things would go down, I didn’t feel like I was slugging through a muddy plot to get there.
Worldbuilding: In this case the reader has to take more on faith than I think a typical SCIFI fan would like. The exposition mentioned above feels a bit like a, “just go with it, OK?” vibe. Given that I’m not the most persnickety SCIFI reader, I didn’t mind so much. My mental answer was, “OK.” This is a more character-driven story, so I don’t think the author wanted to get too caught up in the hows and whys. It didn’t bother me much, but fans of Herbert and Zahn aren’t going to want to suspend their disbelief as much as I could.
Dialogue: There isn’t a ton of dialogue in this story, and I’d say at least forty percent of it is explaining how a story like this is possible. Still, it felt conversational, and the speakers still had a unique voice.
Description: I liked this aspect of the story. I say this pretty much every time, but I have no way of know who’s reading what review I do. I don’t need a ton of description. Just get my imagination going, and let said imagination take over. This story did that. I saw what I needed to see. Can I give you one character quality or descriptor for Bennett? Nope. So yeah, we probably could have had more, but I rank plot over description and character over everything. I got what I wanted from this story.
Overall: If it weren’t for the beginning of this story, I’d have put this tale at in my top three. I already mentioned why above. It’s still got some clever scenes and an interesting premise. If you’re not over invested in worldbuilding, you can give this story a chance if you want some interesting philosophical fiction with a touch of action.
Thanks for reading