Last Night in Ghosttown by Kathryn McKade

 

GHOST
Last Night in Ghosttown by Kathryn McKade
Publisher: Eggplant Literary Productions
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (53 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In the Maharajah’s Consortium every aspect of citizens’ lives is monitored by the GRID. Throughout the galaxy, on every planet: money, property, even lives are tracked by General Resource Interactive Display. Everywhere, that is, except for Ghosttown. Ghosttown: slum, theme park, holy city, the city that time forgot.

Enter Dev. In five days he leaves for Misra 7, a planet entrenched in a war so deadly it’s known as The House of Death. So it’s one last hurrah before he ships out.

Despite being on a strict time table, Dev allows a would-be thief, Rishi, talk him into handing out expensive med-gems to the sick and needy. What Rishi gets out of this, Dev doesn’t know. What he does know is that he keeps putting off his departure date, and he can’t deny that Rishi is the reason.

Does Dev stick around for Holi, help the people trapped in Ghosttown, and risk getting branded a deserter? Or should he clear out before he gives up his heart to Rishi?

Anyone’s destiny can change in a moment. All it takes is the right decision…or possibly the wrong one.

The technological descriptions in this story left me wanting to know more. More than enough information was provided to paint an accurate picture in my mind of what they look like and how they function, but I was intrigued by the medical advances in particular. It’s difficult to discuss them without giving away spoilers, but there are some very cool treatments in this universe.

The character development was solid and consistent from beginning to end. Dev has experienced a lot of difficult things in his life as a soldier. While most of those memories are only briefly mentioned in this tale, his emotional response to them is so nuanced that at times this almost seemed like a biography instead of a work of fiction. It was almost as interesting to see how the secondary characters gradually reveal their complex backstories as well.

There were several terms that were never explicitly explained. While I figured out what they probably were through a handful of context clues in the plot, it would have been helpful to know for sure in a few cases due to how much time it took me to put all of the pieces together. This is my only criticism of an otherwise great story.

I didn’t want this tale to end. The world-building was so thorough that I almost felt as if I were watching it unfold in real time instead of reading about it. While I don’t know if Ms. McKade is planning to write a sequel, I’d be extremely interested in hearing more from these characters if she ever decides to revisit their lives.

Last Night in Ghosttown was such an enthralling read that I finished it in one sitting. This is a good choice for anyone who likes science fiction set in the distant future.

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