Passport to Phelamanga by Michael Sutherland

Passport to Phelamanga by Michael Sutherland
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Grab your passport and throw away the return, because you’re never going home again.

Grab your passport for the roller coaster ride of your life as you travel through five mind bending journeys that will shock you out of your comfort zone, and take you into the new dawn you’ve always been looking for, to the land of Phelamanga.

‘After All’ – The elite have plundered the planet until there is nothing left and now their own children have mutated into an abandoned race of weakened albinos daring to crawl back to the surface to discover the truth for themselves.

‘Only Human’ – A lone young man gazes out from the mouth of a cave over the relics left by civilization. And now he is the only one left to witness the arrival of planet Earth’s first celestial visitor.

‘Bridge to Andromeda’ – He waits by a lonely road in the night determined to fulfill a promise made between friends when they were still schoolboys, to disappear into the wilds and never return.

‘Till Dawn’ – An old tramp has been on an endless journey, since the day he was released from an orphanage at the age of thirteen, in the vain hope that one day he will finally get see the mother he never knew, before experiencing his last sunrise.

‘Death Trapped’ – One phone call to the skuzzy office of the editor’s underground rag and he’s hooked on a mind bending nightmare too creepy to be real. So much of a bad trip that he can’t bring himself to believe that it’s true. But he’s the kind of guy who runs his life right on up to the wire hoping that all his problems will just fade away. It’s always worked before. But this time it’s too late. And there’s not a damn thing he can do to stop it.

Will the world end with a bang, a whimper or so slowly that no one notices anything until it’s too late? This collection offers five terrifying glimpses into how and why everything ends for individuals, societies and even the entire human race.

It’s scary to think that someday the human race will end. Whether our descendants die out or evolve into a new species has yet to be determined but one of the loneliest fates I can imagine is outliving ever other human being and then face one’s own mortality. The stories in the book are spooky, sad, and even occasionally funny but all of them attempt to describe what it would be like to be in this situation.

Till Dawn was full of run-on sentences that made it difficult to follow the narrator’s thoughts. I suspect that it was intended to show the narrator’s disorganized thinking and possibly hint at an underlying mental illness. The concept was quite intriguing but I spent so much time trying to figure out if the narrator was reliable that I never quite got into it.

After All shows what would really happen in an apocalypse: the wealthy would hog all of the resources, everyone else would die slowly and terribly. The question is, though, what happens many generations from now when the wealthy re-inherit the earth? Can a society survive longterm if only a few personality types are allowed to reproduce?

Death Trapped once again had me wondering how much of what the main character described was actually happening versus how much of it was a hallucination. The entities the main character meets are so unusual that they could easily be described but even when the author’s intentions are confirmed I found myself listing reasons why the other explanation was still valid. It definitely kept me guessing, though, and the characters in this story were my favourite in the entire book.

Only Human is the strongest entry in this collection. It would be so lonely to be the last member of one’s species still alive especially while witnessing the genesis of the species that will be your replacement. The twist at the end of it was unexpected and even though it left me wanting more everything was tied together precisely and all of the questions I had at the beginning were more than satisfactorily answered.

The Bridge to Andromeda has an attention-grabbing introduction but I had trouble figuring out why it ended so abruptly or how certain aspects of the plot were intended to connect to one another. The metaphors were so well-written that I could almost see them bubbling out between the sentences. I truly wished to savour the final story but never quite understood what the author was attempting to communicate.

Despite a few bumps along the way Passport to Phelamanga is an imaginative collection of tales that I never wanted to end. I hope to read more from Michael Sutherland soon and in the meantime will be revisiting these worlds and wondering what he will come up with next!


  1. Thank you so much for this article, and you definitely made me want to check out Michael’s books.

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