[Updated August 23, 2019] In April 2017 I announced a new series which I called “Panic! Horror In Space“.
Panic! currently consists of two volumes, “Static” and “Life Signs“, with the third on the way. There are also three short story previews of the series available as free promotional items (links at the bottom of this article).
So now the fanfare is done, so 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!” 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 fiancée, Wendy K. Gloss.
The series was launched (April 06, 2017) with “Mercury Rising” and “Mercury Resurgent” appearing in the first volume “Static“, 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 “Dead Center” a little later, where a replacement crew of the Mercury has to ‘babysit’ the production crew of a highly rated paranormal investigative TV show on a purportedly haunted abandoned mining facility with disastrous consequences! Then 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!
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