Wow! It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these. I’m slacking. Who here even remembers the premise of these posts? No? Let’s refresh our memories, shall we?
As an editor (both freelance and under REUTS Publications), I have the wonderful opportunity to see amazing novels during their developmental phase. And I wanted to find a way to share them with all of you as they became available. (I also wanted to find a way to help support the authors that trusted me with their manuscripts.) So think of these posts as my own personal book recommendations, straight from the editor’s desk.
Today’s edition brings you a dual entry from talented new author Scott Hughey. First up, his novella:
It isn’t every day your wife dies in a car accident, twice. For Nathan Summers, discovering he can reset time, and change the future by focusing on a moment in the past, is easily the best thing to happen to him . . . this week. Okay, ever.
He can’t wait to use his ability to get one-up on his perfect, cocky, and successful brother-in-law, Wade, who’s the kind of son his mother always wished she had. Only, Wade knows all about resetting time, and he warns Nathan that they aren’t the only ones who can do it.
Alice, is a mysterious woman who will do anything to gain power while eliminating the competition. She learns that Nathan shares her talent for twisting time. Now she’s kidnapped Nathan’s wife, and framed him for a horrendous crime.
With time for Nathan’s wife running out, Alice offers an exchange. Nathan’s wife for his reset point, and his life.
Already Seen is a fast-paced, brilliant thrill-ride with a side of snark. Containing one of the best opening lines — “The first time I killed my wife, I made a horrid spectacle of myself.” — it combines humor, reminiscent of the TV show Chuck, with the multi-layered storytelling mechanic of Inception. I knew from the second I read its premise that I was going to love it, and Hughey didn’t disappoint.
Nathan is a normal guy with an average life. He’s married, works as a cell phone salesman, and has a complex about his perfect brother-in-law. But all that changes when he discovers he has the ability to morph time. Triggered by a car accident that results in his wife’s death, he suddenly finds he can jump back to a set point in the past, an ability that gives him unlimited do-overs.
But he’s not the only one who can manipulate the future, and he soon discovers that having this skill makes him a target. Wade, the always perfect brother-in-law, also has the ability, but for once, he’s on Nathan’s side. There’s an enemy greater than their petty rivalry, and she has Nathan in her sights. Determined to collect his reset point for her own, Alice kidnaps Nathan’s wife, setting him on a path that will take him as far out of his comfort zone as possible. But maybe, with Wade’s help, he just might be able to survive.
Loosely based on the idea of video game save points, Already Seen is a well-written, original take on the idea of time travel. With shades of superhero awesomeness, and infused with moments that are both heartfelt and poignantly human, this novella is easily one of the best things I’ve read so far this year. The prose is effortless and laced with Hughey’s signature wit. My only complaint was that it ended. That said, it is a self-contained novella, and the ending is definitely satisfactory.
I really can’t recommend this one enough. So, before we move on to his other work, here are the buy links for Already Seen:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
And now, the second offering from Scott Hughey:
What happens when you can travel through feelings and memories like others can travel down the road? And what would happen if a werewolf, a vampire, and a zombie walked into a bar?
Enjoy this collection of fantasy and science fiction short stories, ranging from light-hearted comedy, to dark and poignant sci-fi drama. This collection contains two 100-word stories, for reading in a flash, two traditionally sized shorts, and end with a novelette sized story for a longer read.
This Is Not A Bar Joke- What happens when a vampire, a werewolf, and a zombie all walk into a bar at the same time?
Cheating Death- It’s Death’s first day on the job, and he’s already messed things up.
Don’t Feed the Fairies- A nine year old girl tries to manipulate the tooth fairy, and as a result has to confront her fear of wolves.
Bad News Bear- Ever wonder what really happened to Goldilocks? Surely three talking bears with (apparently) opposable thumbs wouldn’t let her get away so easily.
Journey Into Memory- Kris Lichnev had everything. A beautiful family, a new world to raise them on, and a dream job. In that world, money really could buy love, along with any other emotion, and Kris was one of the few people with the ability to sell. So why did he give up his luxurious life? More to the point, what made him suddenly willing to start digging through those memories again and sale them on the black market?
Journey Into Memory (I’m truncating the title for the remainder of this review) is an anthology containing works of several different lengths and tones. This is Not a Bar Joke is perhaps the most quintessential in terms of Hughey’s comic abilities, but my personal favorite is the longest of the collection — Journey Into Memory. As much as I enjoy Hughey’s sarcasm and often dark sense of humor, it’s his ability to craft intricate, complex narratives that really captivates me as a fan. And Journey Into Memory is nothing if not intricate.
Kris Lichnev is a broken man when we first meet him. He once had everything he wanted — a beautiful family, a dream job, all the things humanity strives for. But an accident ripped it all away, claiming his daughter’s life and his marriage in the process. Now, he wants it back, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, including selling emotions on the black market.
The story itself is tragic and beautiful and will tug on your heart strings, but the idea of emotion mining, of sifting through memory and collecting the feelings contained within, is downright brilliant. The narrative is structured in such a way that you see both the past and present unfold simultaneously, creating a rich experience that rivals the depth of many longer works.
If you’re a fan of shorter fiction, or looking to discover a promising new writer, I recommend checking out everything by Scott Hughey. I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what his talent has to offer, and I, for one, will be waiting not-so-patiently for him to release a full-length novel. In the meantime though, I will snatch up anything he chooses to publish, and highly recommend that you do the same. Here are the buy links for Journey Into Memory, so you can do exactly that: