McFatter delivers a complex, philosophical look at the fringes of humanity, memory, and civilization in this debut sci-fi Western.
Miguel Morgan has lost everything—more than once. He’s been taken out of suspended animation by a “Woman in Black” named Alice and her enigmatic master, The Kind Man, and forced to confront how the world has changed since he was put in a stasis pod in 2012. Now Miguel is utterly lost; he’s alone, without the other 46 people who were placed in stasis with him. He remembers little of his life and the old world, before civilization was reduced to its current wasteland, known as the Outfar. But his body and mind, thanks to the stasis process, are stronger than ever. This is fortunate, because he’ll need every bit of his strength, skill, and burgeoning psychic abilities to survive in a harsh world filled with strange and frightening technology, desperate people, and ghoulish cyborgs. When Alice leaves him at a ramshackle settlement, he attempts to help the people there and uncover the mysteries of his past. The resulting revelations threaten to shake the very foundations of this new world. The novel offers an appealing sci-fi tale, featuring humanity on the brink of destruction, managing to survive in the face of impossible odds. What sets it apart, though, is the incorporation of Western genre elements. It’s easy for post-apocalyptic tales to get lost in the weeds of the causes of the apocalypse and the monstrosities left behind, not to mention descriptions of abandoned metropolises. McFatter, however, approaches the setting as a lone frontier—harsh and unforgiving but also beautiful. The narration, and Miguel’s voice in particular, really helps to sell this idea, lending a folksy charm and grit to the more fantastical elements. All in all, the tone and style transform an otherwise competent apocalyptic yarn into a unique treat, boding well for future entries in the series.
A thrilling tale that deftly merges sci-fi and Western concepts.