The human race teeters on the brink of extinction in a solar system choking under the glare of a dying sun. An assassin for the Martian Interstellar Correction Agency, Steele has one more assignment to complete before a big payoff and the chance of a new life: a job that will reveal the true horrors of mankind’s futile existence and threaten the very people who make his life worth living.
As mankind draws its final breath, what would you do to save your family?
I read a kindle version kindly sent to me by the author – thank you Dylan!
October Rain is written entirely in the first person perspective, from the point of view of bounty hunter Steele, who works for the government’s Interstellar Correction Agency on Mars. This allows us to be right there with him experiencing first hand his tension and fear as the action escalates.
The story is set far in the future on colonized Mars, in the main city of Olympus.
Steele was born on Mars’ moon, Titan in a farming community. He only ever experienced Earth through the city’s Museum of Human History.
This novella contains plenty of thrilling action, gunfights, chases, a fight with a mutant monster in the bowels of Mars’ ice mine, creepy human laboratory experiments and some very unexpected twists and turns to the tale!
Steele, his wife Kari and child Shauna are due to leave Mars that evening to start a new life on Titan, reuniting with Steele’s parents. However, he has to perform three more jobs before his work is done and they can finally leave together.
Mars is becoming emptier as people flee the inhospitable planet – a mass emigration is in progress. Water appears to have been the main problem with colonizing Mars. Ice lies beneath the surface and mines have been developed which are manned by male and female prisoners convicted for any and all crimes on the planet. These mines have not yielded enough ice however and at the time of the novella, the mine area has been abandoned for more than two years.
“The mines of Olympia were the city’s biggest embarrassment despite the project’s success in bringing water to the city. In the past, Olympia contained no prisons. A criminal could expect his cell to be a darkened tunnel beneath the city, and the duration of his purgatory to be spent excavating ice. Now, with changing times and mass emigration in progress, the usual sentence was swift execution—judging by the stories I’d heard, a far better option than the mines.”
The volcanic rain is acidic and since the atmosphere is not conducive to human survival, the people had been living under domes with solar paneling on top of them, providing their energy.
Steele is an interesting character. He kills easily, and justifies those killings to himself:
“I’m a bounty hunter who exterminates criminals and those whose misdeeds have made their lives worthless. I’m not a saint, but I rid this city of its sinners.”
However, he realises this career would be unacceptable to his wife, so his family don’t know what he actually does for a living. He clearly adores his family and wants nothing more than to keep them safe and make a healthier new life for them on Titan, since Olympia is now full of drug dealers and thieves – the dregs of society are all that have been left behind.
The author has thoroughly thought out his location and the narrative is peppered with interesting descriptive titbits of information:
“Martian money contained a crimson hue, the same shade as the dust that coated this planet’s inhospitable landscape. Arranged in neat rows, the bundles were tied together by black ribbons. A quick search told me each note was worth a hundred phobi; the currency named after Mars’s closest orbiting moon. There had to be about eight thousand notes stuffed into the briefcase, more than I could hope to earn during a six hundred and eighty-seven day Martian year.”
Steele locates and dispatches two of his final three targets and then continues his search for his final mark, Pierce, who he finds deep beneath the surface of the planet in the bowels of the ice mine in a horrific government lab, where he has been experimenting on fellow humans. In order to locate Pierce in the mine, Steele had to get past a group of less-than-human creatures and then take on a mutant monster.
“Some people claimed these creatures were former convicts who’d gotten lost in the maze of excavations beneath the city; others said they were simply left behind when the mining operation ceased. Whatever they were, they’d once been human, but generations of a harsh existence had turned them into animals.”
There is a very exciting twist at this point, which I am not going to spoil and the rest of the novella develops into an even faster paced, tense and thrilling race against time for Steele to reach his family in time to save them from certain peril.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novella and my only complaint is that it was not a full length novel. I would love to see Steele somehow escape from his final predicament and I want to know what happens to his family…
Recommended for fans of SciFi, thrillers and post apocalyptic fiction.
Dylan J. Morgan
DJM Entertainment, 2016