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Book Review: Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch

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Calling all X-Philes, Zonies, Peaks Freaks, conspiracy theorists and science fiction lovers. This heart-pounding extra-exciting thriller offers the best of the weirdness tossed about in the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, X-Files and all the other books, movies, and TV series of the paranormal and the really "out there" offerings. In Gray Apocalypse James Murdoch spins out the tale, but never out of control, in a well-written extension of some of the mainline madness that has so entertained sci-fi and horror fans for the last 40 years.

Just imagine Skully and Mulder's ETs mating with humans, building an army, and controlling the heavens. Sounds like they are the gods of Greek mythology or angels of the Old Testament, doesn't it?  And that's exactly how the Breeders view themselves.  We see them through the mind of Michael Kendon, a renegade resistance fighter with paranormal powers. One such ability is to tune in on the thoughts of the master race. This is the only flaw I found in the fast-paced plot that doesn't flag from first to last. Mind-reading these "gods" is a deus ex machina ripped right out of Euripides' plays; however, it isn't a fatal flaw because, after all, this is sci-fi.

Gray Apocalypse could also be considered a horror story if gray-skinned, big-eyed, long-armed aliens in huge flying saucers give you pause. Or if you find the idea of breeding with such beings repulsive, or the notion of cloning nauseates you and brings up fear. It's the ultimate outsiders' plot to destroy most humans with an engineered celestial event.

The non-stop action takes place in two locations, the American Southwest and on a promontory in Puerto Rico.  It features not just one but two budding romances that develop in a tasteful fashion, maybe making the book also suitable reading material for youngsters. It contains little sex, but much violence.

While Kendon and his side-kick, Laura evade the heavenly oppressors and their goons, another part of the solution to earthly devastation evolves at Cabo Rojo in southwestern Puerto Rico. An alert astronomer, Eric Tepler, discovers the planet's impending doom and tries to notify the rest of the world, only to get caught up in the operation to avert the disaster.  He connects with a local teacher, Gabriela, whose family was also fated to become engaged in this pulse-pounding adventure.

Murdoch nicely ties together the two subplots to reach a satisfying climax. The story has few wasted words or actions and moves along with magnificent pacing.  It doesn't seem as much a tale of redemption (Kendon morphs from assassin to healer) as touted because the character knew from the beginning that he had a healing power and he continues to kill until the ending.  But it is a rollicking good roller-coaster of an adventure.

The hardcover edition of Gray Apocalypse is set for release in the spring of 2009.

About Georganna Hancock

San Diego publisher, freelance editor and writer, blogged almost daily for eight years at A WRITERS EDGE. She helps writers on the path to writing success with critiques, edits and publishing advice. Find her author page on Amazon and her epublications in her Amazon Shop. Her business profile is on LinkedIn and her tweets on Twitter, where she's aka @GLHancock. Georganna's first writing appeared in print in the 1960s. She worked as a journalist for many years. She reviewed books for the FORT PIERCE NEWS TRIBUNE and THE LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL and wrote for THE MIAMI HERALD, regional publications, and many national magazines. She was a member of the National Book Critics Circle, the San Diego Professional Editors Network and the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, for which she served as Web Manager. Books reviewed may have been received as gifts. All her writings are protected by U.S. copyright law.