LAST PLANE TO HEAVEN
This posthumously published collection of Lake’s short stories, spanning decades, was planned and put together by Lake himself. At first I was worried that I’d be unable to disconnect the emotion of Lake’s personal story with the impartiality required of reviewing, but Lake’s fantastic writing and worldbuilding made that worry irrelevant. This collection is well worth the time and investment; even the weakest story stands out. Readers will find themselves justifying the read of one more story before bed and discover they are awake well into the wee hours of the night. None of the stories are less than well-written and Lake’s voice is strongest in the stories where he ties in military roughness with his impressive imagination.
In “Last Plane to Heaven”, Battle hardened and scarred Allen’s highly skilled merc group encounters something well beyond their level of experience in the barrens of the Gobi desert. “Permanent Fatal Errors” focuses on security officer Maduabuchi who’s on a ship with limited crew, enhanced human beings and a disturbing mutiny afoot. In “The Women Who Ate Stone Squid”, Ari descends to the surface of a strange planet, charged with exploring and photographing visible ruins — and then getting out. But something is there, and Ari’s not sure she wants to follow directives. Gods have invaded and destroyed the world as humans know it in “Such Bright and Risen Madness in our Names”, and the few remaining humans are in hiding, traveling from lodge to lodge in a seemingly futile effort at resistance. (TOR, Sep., 304 pp., $27.99)