Just Released: “Panic! Horror In Space #2”

In April 2017 I announced a new series – “Panic! Horror In Space” and the availability of the first volume in that series which featured two related short stores: “Mercury Rising” and “Mercury Resurgent”.

The second volume has just been released, and features two more related short stories entitled “Dead Center” and “Through A Dark Glassy”.

What, you may be asking yourself, is there to panic about? Let me tell you:

What is “Panic! Horror In Space”? It is a series of science-fiction-horror stories mostly in the same setting featuring mostly the same regular characters, with the occasional introduction of new characters or settings. The premise of the concept was to create a horror-sci-fi story in a series of connected short fiction installments.

A little background: The series came about by complete chance, as I was in the process of finishing some unrelated incomplete short stories which were intended to go into a sequel for “Space Sucks!” called “Space Really Sucks!“. Some of the short stories I was working on at the time were originally essays and compositions left over from high school nearly 30 years earlier, including “Code Red” and another called “The Curse” from 1987, which at the close of 2016 I reworked into masterful suspense slash horror story and renamed it “Mercury Rising” for inclusion into that second volume of “Space Sucks!”.

What sort of scenarios or horror plot devices can readers expect to see in this series? Things like zombies, ghosts, haunted or cursed objects as well as assorted kinds of paranormal activity are likely to feature in a variety of settings such as deserted colonies or outposts, and derelict space ships or stations.

I generally considered myself a sci-fi/fantasy writer until the ‘Panic!’ series – despite also occasionally writing numerous horror plot-devices and characters into many of my stories previously – and was somewhat hesitant to identify myself as a horror writer proper. As such, I regarded the writing of “Mercury Rising” as something of an experiment.

“I loved the suspense and thrill of Mercury Rising; I felt like any moment was going to break into horror. Zombies in space on a small, dead ship in the middle of nowhere is an utterly terrifying thought. I felt claustrophobic, like I was in that derelict with them.

The scene of Flane and Vic walking the hull was brilliant in reference to the title. That brief moment of hope before the characters’ devastating disappointment is cunning. I liked that you didn’t put too much emphasis on the hope aspect; it felt like a natural hope from what you’d expect out of the perspective of two exhausted people going through an adrenaline crash.

I thoroughly enjoyed the contact scenes; full of action and anxiety. The ending was a blanket of dread that fell over me. My heart sank to my stomach. I suspected the Mercury was infected but I wasn’t fully prepared for the confirmation.

I have questions; like what the contagion is, how it spreads, how it affects lifeforms, but they’re best left to my imagination I think. So the vague clues were well placed. I felt like there should be more after the S.O.S, though I can’t think of a better way to end it. The unhappy ending is beautiful! So much despair.

I’m really looking forward to reading your other stories! It’s refreshing to read some old-school action sci-fi that works more on the story than the plausibility of the sciences in it.

Thank-you for letting me read Mercury Rising! I’m probably going to dream about it now.” – Anike Kirsten, author of “Of Beasts And Men”.

South African sci-fi author Anike Kirsten reviewed that first story very positively in early 2017, and bolstered by by that review and encouragement from several other readers I sent that story to for input, I made the choice to write a sequel and turn the story into a series on its own! I have frequently given the credit for encouraging me to write a sequel (“Mercury Resurgent“) and turn it into a standalone sci-fi horror series to my fiance’e, Wendy K. Gloss.

“Panic!” – the series: Each volume that would be released would contain two distinctly separate stories of around 13,000 words each, and these stories would not necessarily be of a ‘part 1 & part 2’ nature as in the first volume (April 2017). This means that while both stories in each volume would typically feature the same core group of characters, they would typically encounter a different scenario in each story, as in the second volume (due August 2017).

The series was launched (April 06, 2017) with “Mercury Rising” and “Mercury Resurgent” appearing in the first volume (#1), where the reader is introduced to main characters Stuart Flane and Vic Chapman, and some of the crew of the ill-fated starship Mercury. 

While on a routine deep-space mission to chart new territory on the frontier of unknown space, the Pioneer Fleet starship Mercury stumbles across an apparent shipwreck in deep-space that opens a whole new can of worms for her crew.

How had a ship last seen near a Terran colony light years away forty years ago got here before the Mercury? Why couldn’t the cause of death of the crew be determined – what was in the deleted log entry of the Kilgary – and why had it been deleted?

The last thing Stuart Flane, captain of the Mercury, expected while he and five members of his crew worked to discover the answer to the enigma, was a day-long running battle inside the bowels of the moldering corpse of a long-vanished loderunner. Their troubles don’t end there, because Mercury – their only ride home – is also in trouble…

The story continues in volume #2, which features “Dead Center” where the (new) crew of the Mercury has to ‘babysit’ a TV crew on a purportedly haunted abandoned mining facility with disastrous consequences, and “Through A Dark Glassy” in which the Mercury is sent to assist a cargo ship in trouble, only to discover that the cause for the loderunner Marconi’s distress – and now theirs – is a box load of haunted items!

Christina Engela proudly presents the 2nd volume in a series of horror misadventures in deep space with the crew of the I.S.S. Mercury. In “Dead Center”, to repay a debt, Captain Flane accompanies the crew of the cult TV show “Specter Adventures” in a “lock-down” of the most haunted abandoned Terran outpost in the Galaxy, while “Through A Dark Glassy” explores the creepy consequences of placing a paper note reading “WARNING: ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY DO NOT OPEN” on a crate containing some of the most dangerous haunted items known to humanity – and sending it away via a space courier service – and not in a hypothetical way either.

Dead Center: Some people enjoy watching paranormal TV shows – but not Stuart Flane, captain of the Terran starship Mercury. Having just narrowly missed being a ghost – or worse, himself – after a weird incident involving reanimated corpses and alien nanobots, Flane wanted nothing to do with playing host to a bunch of paranormal investigators for a popular TV show called ‘Specter Adventures’. Neither did he fancy a 12 hour jaunt on Floridia-7, which was described by some as ‘the most haunted abandoned Terran outpost in the galaxy’ – but since he owed Commodore Peters for covering his ass after he lost nearly his entire crew to the zoms, he reluctantly agreed. And that, pretty much, is where things started going off the rails.

Through A Dark Glassy:  Haunted paintings. Possessed dolls. Nightmarish accursed items that leave messy trails of misery, horror and death behind them through the pages of history. Regular folk would run a mile if someone offered them such a terrifying object, so what sort of person would want to actually collect them? More importantly, why would anyone think it was safe to transport these items via a courier service with only a poorly printed paper sign reading “WARNING: ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY DO NOT OPEN” stuck on the box? What if someone did? Even more of interest to Captain Flane of the intrepid starship Mercury, why did it always have to be his ship that drew the short straw?

The second volume was released on 10 August 2017 and the third is due out by December. So – with two volumes already available, if you’re not already in a “Panic!”, the question is – why not?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

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  5. Trackback: Another Round @ The Crow Bar #12 – December 2017 | The Crow Bar
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