Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing the June 2018 issue of Cirsova Magazine. Being my first time reading Cirsova, I found myself absolutely in love with the stories they’d selected. Imagine my surprise (and glee!) then when they asked me to review an advance review copy of their upcoming science-fiction novella Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon, written by Michael Tierney.
If you’ve never heard of Wild Stars, don’t worry because until that moment, I hadn’t either. I’ve a life-long love affair with comic books (in fact, I avoid comic book stores because I can easily spend a week’s wages at once in them) but this was new to me. It fascinated me to learn that Wild Stars has been around in comic form since the mid-1980s. The first volume was published in 1984 during the height of the black-and-white comic craze. According to Cirsova, they were small print runs with only 2,000 copies printed of each, so I don’t feel so bad since at that time I had no income of my own. Elementary school kids just don’t make a lot of cash!
So, like me, you’re probably wondering just what the Wild Stars are. Well, to quote Cirsova,
“In distant aeons past, an immortal being descended upon Earth from the Stars to settle it before leading mankind on their first migration into space to colonize the worlds circling the brightest stars in the night sky–the Wild Stars! The saga of the Wild Stars courses over countless millennia, parallel worlds, and multiple intersecting timelines as inhuman aliens and the descendants of immortal space-farers fight to control, defend, or destroy Earth and the Human Race.”Cirsova Publishing
Does that not sound absolutely awesome?
In Wild Stars III, the Wild Stars have faded into myth. Humans have left Earth to colonize distant planets throughout the galaxy, some habitable and some requiring terraformation. A peculiar thing has begun to take place, however. Once-viable planets have begun to disappear, the last vestiges of their light in the night sky the only proof of their former existence. No one really knows why these planets are going missing and many chalk it up to the Great Mystery. Former Earth President Bully Bravo and his nephew Bully Shawnee must face off against two enemies with very different agendas: a vicious space pirate known as the Red Queen and an immortal alien being intent on destroying mankind.
The plot kept me engaged throughout. It is definitely a fast-moving story, dropping you into the action right from the beginning. There really are no slow spots (the cruise-ship scene being the one exception to this).
For the most part, Tierney does a decent job with character development. This is, after all, a novella based on a comic book. Character development doesn’t need to be incredibly deep and it’s present in the characters that matter. For example, we get to see both virtues and flaws in both Bully Bravo and his nephew and in the alien villain Gow. The remaining characters are more two-dimensional but given the type of work this is, that’s perfectly acceptable. I’d have liked to see a little more development of the Red Queen, being the secondary villain, but then again, she wasn’t as central to the story as Gow. That being said, I’d have liked a little better insight into just what she was after. I never got a clear picture of her goal.
Science fiction requires so much additional detail that you don’t find in other sub-genres. I mean, in Fantasy, you have to set the scene in a believable way that makes sense to your audience—and if it’s not something they’d understand by the rules of reality they’re familiar with, then the author needs to be able to explain it. A good fantasy author knows everything about their world, from the universe’s creation to how gravity works. Science-fiction often requires all that and then some—and that’s the case with Wild Stars III.
It’s clear that Tierney knows his universe. There is so much happening—time travel, interdimensional travel, ships that can move planets around, and more—that he couldn’t have pulled this off if he didn’t. It’s a very richly imagined world and I would love to one day read the original comics that were the source material for this novella.
On a side note, I really liked the nod to the werewolf legend in the form of the Brothan.
Structure & Mechanics
All the above said, I felt that the structure and mechanics of Wild Stars III needed a little more work. First off, there are some typos and grammatical errors throughout which made the editor in me cringe. They’re not overly common, which is good, but they are peppered throughout the story.
Structure-wise, there were issues both in dialogue and exposition. There were several times where information was repeated unnecessarily (references to the Ansa massacre during the cruise ship scene, for example), or where a character already familiar to the reader is suddenly referred to as if he or she is brand new (such as when Nyree meets Tall Trees). There were also several instances where it would have been better to show a character’s thoughts or sentiment through action rather than telling me what they were.
Of course, none of this was a deal breaker for me. It took me out of the story a little since it confused the narrative a bit but it didn’t kill the momentum completely.
Despite these few issues, I thoroughly enjoyed the energetic romp that is Wild Stars III. I like the strange and off-beat, as this definitely fits that bill. Of course, one line in particular really sealed the deal for me:
“You must war against Earth by first warring against the Dragon Kings of the vampire dragons.”Wild Stars III, Michael Tierney
You can laugh at me all you want but vampire dragons? I am so down to read about vampire dragons! With all the genuinely insane story ideas I come up with, never once have I dreamed up a pairing like that. That makes it crazy enough to catch my attention and, frankly, I want to know more.