by Ethan X Thomas, futuristic (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-884-0

In Ethan X Thomas's debut effort Crimson, we meet 44-year old Lt Benjamin Kraft and his second-in-command, 28-year old Adam. Both of them are in a mission to zap the rear end of Tazu Masato, but for Ben, it's personal. When the story opens, everyone else has been wiped out in an ambush. Ben blames himself for not predicting the ambush, and frankly, when I read the first chapter, I find myself wondering how Ben ever graduated from military school. Either he's stupidly over-emotional in the first place or he has let his personal grudge made him stupid.

Still, these two get a second chance when they manage to escape with their lives intact. This time, they will pose as a newly married couple and infiltrate a pleasure resort planet called Granatas, to figure out whether the Granati are doing anything funny to manipulate the minds of visiting senators. You can imagine what happens next, I'm sure.

Crimson befuddles me. The opening chapter seems sober, suggesting that I am going to get a serious action-packed military romp with romance, but once our two guys reach Granatas, they begin reminding me of Anne Rice's Exit To Eden, and I'm talking about the movie with Rosie O'Donnell. The urgency in the initial two chapters or so gives way to a meandering kind of humor mixed with sexual shenanigans that are pretty typical of stories set in a sex club full of horny toads. I am also having a hard time trying to visualize the world of this story. Alex grows feathers on his chin when he doesn't shave and both men have starfish-like symbiotes on their necks, but beyond that I have a hard time pinning anything down about this setting.

An apparent lack of focus and direction makes Crimson a bewildering read at the end of the day. I wish the author had stuck with a single consistent tone throughout the story. A more developed setting won't hurt too.

Rating: 64

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