Written by: Paula Limbaugh
Reading a book by Jeffrey Thomas is akin to reading a book of poetry, there’s something about the way the words fall into places and create this beautiful telling. Ghosts of Punktown published by Dark Regions is no exception, there’s a musicality weaving through the city, taking us from one story to the next uninterrupted.
For those of you unfamiliar with Punktown, it is located on the planet Oasis and built by Earth colonists. The Choom and several other species, some human, some not, along with the colonists make up the inhabitants of this violent crime-filled city. Think, Arkham City or Brick Mansions, a dark disturbing habitat.
Before continuing on to Punktown please do read the Introduction. Here you will be taken on a gastronomical tour stopping by all those little gems that can only be found if one knows his city.
In His Sights is the first stop in Punktown;the horrors of war are never over for those who have fought. Jeremy Stake a mutant has returned home, but wears a mask to hide what he’s become. Cal Williams another returned vet is still haunted by the enemy’s face. A chance encounter is all it takes for Cal to be back in the zone, hunting the ghosts of his past.
As we leave the zone behind we step into Relics where eight year old Cynth resides with her parents and Mr. Moon. Mr. Moon is the very essence of her building, the motherboard if you will. This is a sad tale of letting go the past and freeing one’s self to the future.
A Semblance of Life is a dark story of the past colliding with the present.
Ghosts take on so many forms, of past, of what was, what should have been and what is. Ghosts abound in Bitter Brains.
Disfigured, where else but Punktown will you find a soft porn magazine by such a name. In a world where the medical field can correct any imperfection, people have become boring. The need to be different, to stand out will always remain and if it takes disfiguring one’s self surgically, then so be it. This story reminds me of Rod Serling’s Eye of the Beholder. Who are we to judge beauty?
Imps show us how an image can haunt forever. You can relive it over and over but you can’t change it once it’s imprinted.
As we delve deeper into Punktown the scenery becomes grittier, the stories rawer. In The Room we meet Quick Billy once an up and coming crime runner, he is now next in line as crime boss. Surrounded by servants and security, he can pretty much have whatever he wants, but all he wants is Candy.
Imagine if you will, living in the memories of your dead lover. Into My Arms, not just remembering but actually feeling, breathing, being those thoughts. That’s what Swift does when he infuses himself with the nanomites of his deceased lover Talene.
Finally we reach Subtown, the underbelly of Punktown which is a world unto its own. It is here in Life Work that we are introduced to the Japanese expression ‘rice work.’
“In the culture of your ancestors, the work that puts food on the table is your ‘rice work.’ As opposed to your ‘life work,’ which is the work you truly love.”
Hanako, a pretty girl is an android who lives in the same building as Huck, a hired triggerman for the Neptune Teeb Syndy. While looking out his window one day he spots some gang members playing with body parts. Something inside him snaps and he decides it is time to do his life work.
Ghosts are a part of lives, whether we accept them or not is moot, they’re here. Jeffrey Thomas opens our eyes to these encounters and lets us deal with them as we may. If you are a fan of his work, you will not be disappointed. If you have never read a Jeffrey Thomas book before, you will not be disappointed. Buy the book!! Oh, I should add as a bonus if you pick up a hard copy you will be getting an amazing cover featuring the work of Kris Kuksi!