“Empty Quiver (n) – A U.S. Military reporting term to identify and report the seizure, theft, or loss of a nuclear weapon.”
Following up his initial success with the YA/superhero mashup, Crimson Son, writer Russ Linton has achieved a remarkable hat trick with his follow-up novella, Empty Quiver, a quintet of tales that span from the dawn of the Augment age, long before the events of his prior novel, to near modern days, complete with sly references to Central American politics that still ring true.
Straddling the line between comic book heroics and dark revisionist history, Linton imagines a world where the Fat Man and Little Boy dropped on the cities of Japan were not nuclear devices, but Augmented beings, created to end the war. But, like the events of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, not all Augments are welcome, and most are forced underground to continue doing their work at the behest of a government that is losing control of their creations.
But, Linton’s strength doesn’t come from the great tableau he’s building up in these tales. It’s the small brush strokes that make these stories sing. A Hiroshima survivor tells what really happened on that day in August. A ghetto child grown-up returns home to confront the secret his family hides. A young girl’s idolization of a female Augment has deeper significance than she knows. Linton has drawn his epic world best in the reflections of those impacted by it, be they Augment or human. Like an origami creation, he builds his tales in subtle layers, crisp folds of storytelling that make a shape far different than first expected.
You don’t have to have read Crimson Son to enjoy these tales, but the “guest appearances” and subtle hints of the darker future to come make it that much richer, and you’re probably gonna pony up the couple of buck to get that, too. And, you know what?
You won’t regret it.
“A damn kid, like Little Boy had been. But, this one was scared s–tless, unlike Little Boy. Joy had burned in that pint-sized monster’s eyes as the city burned to ash around them. A terrible fire consuming something inside of him, fueling him, eating him alive. Eldon understood the hate and anger. The kid had been God’s own righteous fire that night, whipped into a frenzy by Hurricane’s winds, but Eldon had always felt that kid would have scorched every inch of the planet if given the go-ahead.”
Available now at Amazon.com.
VERDICT: FIVE Crimson Mask Alpha Injections out of FIVE