dino parenti dead reckoning

This pre­mier col­lec­tion by Dino Par­enti, pub­lished by Crys­tal Lake Pub­lish­ing, show­cases six­teen beau­ti­fully writ­ten sto­ries that delve into the darker aspects of Amer­i­can life in the late twen­ti­eth and early twenty-​first cen­turies. The sto­ries are grouped by theme and time period, from the sev­en­ties to present day and into a post-​apocalyptic future and include a num­ber of dif­fer­ent gen­res, sci­ence fic­tion, hor­ror, mys­tery and west­ern, to name a few.

Among the sto­ries that stood out for me is “On the Fickle Nature of Ger­mi­na­tion,” which chron­i­cles the jour­ney of a deadly virus from the ice fields of Patag­o­nia to the far cor­ners of the world when two sci­en­tists dis­cover the frozen remains of a cou­ple who died in each other’s arms. Iron­i­cally the nar­ra­tor and her hus­band were try­ing to start a fam­ily when they mis­guid­edly thawed out the dead lovers, dubbed Lady and Gen­tle­man. What begins as a touch­ing, almost roman­tic tale turns into some­thing very dif­fer­ent when Lady and Gen­tle­man are found to have suc­cumbed to a vir­u­lent plague now unleashed upon the planet.

Out­stand­ing even in a col­lec­tion of so many superb sto­ries is “Stra­tum,” whose pro­tag­o­nist plans to exit the Inter­na­tional Space Sta­tion for a close up ‘look’ at the impactor meteor Perses, now on a col­li­sion course with earth. His mis­sion is to launch a group of Remem­brance Spheres that will offer insight to future space trav­el­ers about what life on earth was like before being extin­guished by Perses, but his per­sonal quest may interfere.

The Mother-​of-​Pearl Way,” a qui­etly har­row­ing story of a post-​apocalypse earth, begins with an almost fairy­tale qual­ity. A young girl wit­ness­ing the after­math of a rit­ual fight-​to-​the-​death asks her wise grand­fa­ther, “Why do we keep doing this?” and then risks her life to cre­ate a bet­ter future for her people.

Finally, the title story “Dead Reck­on­ing” depicts a bru­tal bat­tle of wills between a sui­ci­dal priest and a vig­i­lante cop dri­ven to mur­der by a flac­cid legal sys­tem. Par­enti skill­fully unspools their con­flicted pasts as the two men endure a tor­tur­ous trek through Death Valley.

To sum up: DEAD RECK­ON­ING AND OTHER STO­RIES is spec­u­la­tive fic­tion at its finest, a bril­liant col­lec­tion that deserves to be savored, con­tem­plated, and read again.

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  • There are few reads closer to my heart than a col­lec­tion of good short sto­ries. This one sounds amaz­ing and some­thing I will add to my list.