4 out of 4 stars
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Strange Stories II: The Empty Earth is written by Roger Mannon. This fictional book comprises three short stories. The stories were inspired by the author’s concern over climate change and its effects on future generations. The author was also inspired after watching the television series, “The Walking Dead.” The book can be described as a horror and a sci-fi novel.
The first story, “Alone,” centres around William Leroy Brown. He and his best friend, Pete, studied at the same university. Both studied Earth Sciences and volunteered to go on an expedition to Siberia to collect soil and air samples to see how climate change has impacted the permafrost. On their return, they bring back a deadly virus that spreads around the world with a 99% mortality rate. William flees his home and travels through the USA to find a safe place to exist. The third story, “Tipping Point,” also explores the worst-case scenario of climate change. A father and son find a cave high up Mount Williams, with a plan to live there when the world becomes uninhabitable because of the effects of climate change. They have the advantages of survival skills and forward-thinking to help them exist as the world ends.
The second story, “A Ghost Story,” has a different theme and is a tale about what happens after death. Ghosts, souls, and multiverses are present in this thought-provoking story of life after death. The principal character has vague memories of his life but realises he has died. He searches for answers to this other spiritual existence and desires to find more souls like himself.
The subject of climate change is described in the book. The stories are a worst-case scenario of what could happen if this issue isn’t addressed. The author uses researched facts, such as increased global warming and the melting of permafrost in areas such as Siberia and Alaska, to show the impact of climate change. I thought the stories gave the reader a lot to reflect upon as they gave an insight into the possible destruction of the world. The stories educate the reader as well as providing captivating stories.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style and found the stories excellent at building up tension. I loved the sense of adventure of the characters, as they were fighting for survival in an increasingly lonely and harsh environment. The stories captured how debilitating loneliness can be and how humans are designed to have companions. One of my favourite parts of the first story is the connection between the lead character and a dog he encounters on his journey. This dog becomes his only friend and salvation and shows what powerful connections humans can have with animals.
I liked a comparison made in the book about the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first story, fake news and conspiracy theories are included, which leads to anger and violence. The author compares this to some media we have seen through this last year and is a stark reminder of how being misinformed can cause implications to the harmony of populations. I enjoyed how the author has woven these current issues into his stories and gives another opportunity for reflection.
I found only one spelling and grammar mistake in the book, which did not detract from my enjoyment, so I believe the book is exceptionally edited. There was nothing I disliked about the three short stories. I loved the author’s writing style as he created powerful imagery. I could imagine the stories adapted for television programmes or movies. I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars, and it will appeal to readers who enjoy the horror/sci-fi genre. I recommend the book for adult readers as the subject is quite dark, and there are profanities present.
Strange Stories II
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