In a relatively short amount of time, Joe Hill has made a helluva splash in the publishing industry. I first came across his writing via the “Voluntary Committal” chapbook that Subterranean Press released, a novella I consider to be one of the best stories of the past decade. Hill’s released numerous projects since then, including the acclaimed short story collection 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS, a solid debut novel entitled HEART-SHAPED BOX, and the LOCKE & KEY comic book series – all of which have been quite entertaining. And while GUNPOWDER is a bit of a departure from his previous works, it is no less enjoyable.

The story opens on a barren planet in the far reaches of space. The only inhabitants are a group of young teenagers and their “mother” Elaine, all of whom have been tasked with creating a livable, sustainable environment out of the desolation they live in. We quickly learn that the children are “psyformers,” capable of using The Talent to bring about life through their imaginations. As things progress on the planet, the government intervenes with a new task for the psyformers – to create large-scale weaponry to be used in an ongoing intergalactic war. But what the government doesn’t account for is how far the children will go to protect their home world…..and their beloved mother.

Hill does an exceptional job with characterization as well as detailing the relationships the boys share with their mother and each other, made all the more impressive considering the story is only 81 pages in length. The love and friendship they share feels genuine, and gives the latter parts of the story believability and emotional power.

While GUNPOWDER doesn’t pack the punch of “Voluntary Committal” or “Pop Art”, it’s still a well-written example of why Joe Hill is one of the finest new authors out there today. Plain and simple, the man knows how to tell a story and keep a reader enthralled from start to finish. GUNPOWDER is a recommended read, and earns an 8 out of 10.

GUNPOWDER is available as an unsigned trade hardcover from PS Publishing for the low price of $18.

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry