Ray Sky, a
superpowered mutant in the 23rd century, travels through time and space to try
to subvert an alien contest over the destiny of humanity.
Sales’ (Jump Reactor, Book One, 2015) absurdist sci-fi, the second in a series, proceeds in its tangled plot with a strange sort of lucid dream–logic and a deadpan treatment of ludicrous events. In the year 2250, Raymond Thadius Sky is a “quad core mutant” descended from Atlanteans, with titanium-reinforced bones, a turtlelike droid companion on his back, and the equivalent of nuclear fusion reactors in his body. He is also a “jump reactor,” one of several chosen by aliens to accelerate humanity’s development into a peaceful, responsible civilization. The scheme—carried out for millennia under the guise of computer-generated angels, spirit possession, and messiahs—is being directed by the extraterrestrial reptilian race called the Hoodia. When Ray realizes it’s all part of a gigantic bet the Hoodia have placed with the Interstellar Gambling Commission, he loses confidence in their good intentions and sets out to loosen their meddling grip on mankind’s destiny. To further this goal, Ray partners with Scalps and Skeletons—an elite secret society with a religious-based master plan to repopulate the Earth with dangerous wildlife that will prey on interloping ETs—as well as above-classified government agency Ultra. Much of the antics, including Ray’s delving into the past of a Rat Pack–esque bunch of roguish entertainers called the Snake Squad, seem like recruiting/hazing rituals rather pointlessly indulged by these shadowy cabals. Finally, Ray voyages through a stargate to the 1980s to harvest hundreds of ferocious grizzly bears and wolves to fight for the future, also uniting several space-going races in battles against compromised solar system installations. He likewise tries to rescue his girlfriend from pseudo-angel captivity. It’s as busy as an out-of-control pinball machine, and after all the wild detours and ricochets, the ending has Ray seemingly reconsidering his mission. There is ample evidence, however, that his weird adventure has not at all ended.
A crazy, careening space-time adventure that’s far from formulaic.