Title: Contact (Gothika: Book Five)
Authors: Kim Fielding, F. E. Feeley Jr, Jamie Fessenden, B.G. Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 306 Pages
Category: Sci-Fi, Historical
At a Glance: Overall I would most definitely encourage sci-fi lovers to pick up this anthology. Contact will certainly entertain those who love the idea that we are not alone in this big galaxy of ours.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Since ancient times, humankind has looked into the night sky and wondered: Are we alone? Are there other civilizations beyond the stars? Will we ever encounter these beings? Who are they, what are they like, and what might they want with us?
These questions are about to be answered, but those who discover the truth might wish they had never asked. On the other hand, some might find salvation in visitors from other planets. For while some aliens are hostile, others are benevolent. Some have little in common with humans, but for others, the need for love and acceptance is universal. Lives will intersect and otherworldly passions will ignite as four acclaimed authors of gay romance explore first contact—and where it can lead.
Review: This latest Gothika anthology deals with stories of the extraterrestrial kind, and features four authors: Kim Fielding, F.E. Feeley Jr.,Jamie Fessenden, and B.G. Thomas. While all have a similar theme—contact with alien life—all the stories are vastly different and overall, the authors did a great job writing characters that were both interesting and believable. The anthology itself dwells less on the scarier elements of alien life and more on the idea that there is intelligence out there beyond our own, and the idea that love is more universal than we think. That’s not to say there aren’t some rather intense moments in most of the stories, but they are tempered by the more inquisitive nature of the alien races and their capacity for compassion.
The first story, Abducted, offered up by author Jamie Fessenden, started off with a bang. After receiving a frantic call from his friend Cody, Marc hurries off to the middle of nowhere to find both Cody and the home he bought in a shambles. It seems that Cody believes he is being taken by an alien race and being experimented on and is just about ready to succumb to a nervous breakdown. After convincing his friend that he needs help, Marc agrees to stay the night with him, only to awaken to find his friend being dragged from the house by a beam of light. Trying to rescue him by grabbing hold of him, Marc himself is wrenched through an upper floor window and when he wakes he realizes he is not in Kansas anymore, so to speak. What follows is his introduction to a highly intelligent race who is pursuing the god-awful bug like creatures that have been grabbing Cody and others in order to experiment on them. While Marc is with them, one of their leaders, Dalsing, leads the extraction mission to not only save Cody but also destroy the enemy ship. Little does Marc realize that the short time spent with Dalsing will bring about more than just feelings of gratitude for his heroics.
I enjoyed this story mainly due to the way in which the author took the time to develop the alien race Dalsing was a part of, and to give a view into their sexuality and way of life. While they had genuine remorse that the humans were being tortured, their real mission was to destroy their enemy before they colonized earth. From Dalsing’s physical appearance to the way he respected Marc and cared for him while Marc was on their ship, Dalsing quickly wormed his way into my heart, strange anatomy aside. Mr. Fessenden writes an earthy, sexual story, but also allows for more than just lust to grow between his two main characters. I was very impressed with the way in which he created not one but two alien races, along with their modes of transportation. The depth of the description and scene setting in this story was incredible given the brevity of the tale itself. All in all this one was by far the most detailed and action packed. Rating: 4.5 stars
Kim Fielding offers up the next short story entitled Refugee, which is also the anthology’s only historical fiction trope. Set in post World War II, medic Walter Clark comes home only to find he no longer fits into the family and life he once had. Harboring real survivor guilt as well as not being able to confront the demons that war has left behind, Walter packs his life into his army duffle and takes off on a road trip that eventually brings him to the idyllic small town of Kiteesha. It’s here that he finds the town’s only diner and experiences food just like his grandmother used to make, and people who, while a bit strange, are incredibly warm and welcoming. After checking into the town’s motor lodge, Walter meets the owner, Martin, who is instantly drawn to Walter, and vice versa. But this is the late 1940s, and gay men hide deep in the closet. When Walter realizes the town not only knows about he and Martin but also embraces their sexuality, Walter cannot help but wonder what kind of fairy tale land he has stumbled upon. When he is drawn into the woods and sees the startling light in the night sky, he panics and nearly destroys the man he has come to like way too much.
I must admit this one really tugged at my heartstrings. Both Walter and Martin were hurting souls, and their moments together were tender and incredibly loving. The townspeople were almost too good to be true and yet, when the real secret behind the town was revealed, it all made sense in the end. There was a shocking twist to this story that made me gasp; thankfully, the author chose to turn it around and give the story a redeeming and peaceful ending. All in all I would have to say this was one of my favorites despite it being much too short. Rating: 5 stars
F.E. Feeley Jr.’s story, My Final Blog, was the darkest and most gripping tale of the four, in my opinion. George is your average kind of guy. His one outlet is maintaining a blog where he writes about his life. Lots of people comment, but there is one, Universal47, who has been with him from the beginning and has gone beyond just politely responding to George’s posts. They have formed a connection of sorts, and so when George tries to end a disastrous affair with an abusive lover, Joseph, he is surprised to find out that Universal47 is behind his finding out that Joseph had been cheating on George all this time. When George finally pushes Universal47 to meet, little does he know that Universal47 has been with him the entire time—waiting for an opportunity to confess his love for him. However, a beam of light is a hard thing to hold in your hand and just what or who Universal47 is turns out to be surprising indeed.
This story was just way too short. I wanted more the moment I read the final words. George was a simple guy who wanted someone to love. The fact that he ended up with a right bastard of a boyfriend who took every opportunity to run him down was no surprise. However, the blog he had begun as a whim turned out to be the thing that saved him—at least, his biggest fan did. Universal47 was a mystery, and when George confronts him online and demands they meet, little did he know that Universal47 would end up saving his life. This story moves so quickly and yet it managed to convey enough of George’s character that you end up rooting for the guy by story’s end. While it was a bit vague as to how Universal and George end up, we are assured that they are happy—and that is all you need to know after the bit of hell poor George is put through. Rating: 4.5
The final tale, Unusual Attention by B.G. Thomas, is the only one that does not end with a human/alien lover theme. Instead it centers on Adam, who has not one iota of interest in falling in love–particularly with a guy who does most of the things he despises: smokes, likes sports, and lives over three hours away. But from their fateful first meeting at a Pride festival, Adam has found himself wanting to spend time with Shane more and more. Then Shane reveals his side bit of crazy when Adam discovers that Shane is pretty sure he has been abducted by aliens and, in fact, is now carrying one of their tracking devices inside his body. Not only that but when Shane discovers that Adam has “lost” time on one of his rides home from spending the weekend with Shane, he is fairly sure that Adam was abducted as well. Essentially, this just cements what Adam was worried about the entire time—Shane is not for him.
However, Adam cannot shake the nagging feeling that Shane may have been telling the truth—at least his warped version of it. So as he digs deeper and deeper into the idea of alien abduction, Adam begins to realize that Shane may not be so crazy after all—and that he also might like the guy quite a bit more than he has allowed himself to admit. By story’s climax, he is racing to Shane’s home in order to save the guy from being taken again. But he may be too late.
Clocking in as the longest story in the anthology, this one was also the most in depth when it came to actually discussing the research and stories of what many believe to be real life abductions. This was a very compelling story that honestly had me ready to believe in alien life forms and the idea that they may indeed be taking humans to observe and experiment on. The interesting twist that Adam and Shane uncover once they are taken aboard the ship is fascinating and ultimately benign in comparison with what we are led to believe during the build up to the climax. In that way it was a bit of a let down and felt slightly contrived, yet one cannot find fault with most of this story. It was most entertaining and spellbinding. Rating: 4 stars
Overall I would most definitely encourage sci-fi lovers to pick up this anthology. Contact will certainly entertain those who love the idea that we are not alone in this big galaxy of ours.
You can buy Contact here: