Sandra McDonald, author of military SF novel The Outback Stars, has come up with something completely different, a tale inspired by Ohio’s Kelleys Island where she attends a summer retreat, one for writers in the real world, and one where monsters are thrown into a limestone pit in The Monsters of Morgan Island.
Come wintertime, when the lake freezes over, the cargo ships stop coming and the monsters remain penned up on the mainland. Without tourists, ferries, or parades to liven the day, Morgan Island becomes a snow-white oasis of quiet and loneliness. The deers, rabbits and foxes forage for food. The monsters in the pit forage as well, but only on each other.
And there’s Mary, a shy girl on that island of Lake Erié, desperate for a way out of her solitude.
Chris Willrich’s Sails the Morne is an adventure set in a future where humankind has terraformed Mars and explored our solar system, but it never made it to the stars. Instead, a bunch of aliens species showed up. This caused great economic upheavals, and, because they compete with each other, none invaded us, but they are forbidden to introduce superior technology anywhere within Neptune’s orbit.
Which is why Brick Chin’s ship, the Eight Ball, is carrying one human ambassador and three alien ones on a mission to the Oort Cloud along with a mysterious cargo. Of course things go wrong, starting with a Flash Gordon-inspired ship that snuck up on them while Chin was fishing inside his vessel’s protective water layer. None of the ambassadors are happy with Chin, and Oddsgod, one of them, is quite explicit about that.
It resembled an inverted blue willow tree with thousands of diminutive worms for branches, little eyeballs near the tips.Those blue tendrils were quite dextrous, so much that Oddsgod was able to make human-readable doodles just by shoving them against the crystal wall. Oddsgod’s latest masterpiece looked like a human hand with its middle finger jutting up.
I’m not quite sure that the whodunit aspect quite worked(1), but the story was fun. And it looks like the author has more tales to tell about the Eight Ball’s crew.
I’d like that very much.
(1) As Larry Niven said in his intro to The Long A.R.M. of Gil Hamilton, SF mysteries are hard to write because one has to explain what is possible and what is not otherwise how can the reader have a fair chance at figuring out the solution in advance? Mind you, I've never been good at figuring out the outcome of mysteries set in the real world.