BREACHSPACE: Chronicles, Vol 1, Review by Richard Caldwell
the three cents.
A prose anthology, Breachspace is a world construct designed and developed by Nuno Teixeira and set around 120 to 130 years after the worst cataclysm ever to strike planet Earth. Through unknown catalyst a Hellmouth is torn open, releasing aether-dimensional nightmare that wipes out over half of the global population, decimating all of civilization with plague and terror. Humanity though, stubborn as it is, rebuilds itself amidst the drastically altered landscape where dragons fly free and magick is as common as the growing technologies of steam-powered bravado. Nothing is left of the world as it was, barely even legend, but life struggles on as it always does. With the Chronicles, Nuno invites other writers to explore this shifted paradigm, pulling together a strong variety of ranging voices from around the globe to show pieces here, pieces there, in narratives that span the distance from gothic horror to pulp adventure to science fantasy.
The Secret of Konrad Drexlar, by Kevin Lumley, features a war-weary soldier as he pursues a secret mission for his king into the sprawling metropolis of Cogtown, hunting down the mystery of a shocking new weapon while finding much more than he could’ve imagined in the form of a spirited lady industrialist.
Tainted Love, by E.J. Tett, tells the tale of a lone woman and her possessive blade fighting to protect her infant son from an onslaught of knights and werewolves, and has a very nice twist to the end.
Blood and Freedom, by Joleen Kuyper, introduces us to a young woman trying to escape a life of literal slavery for the chance to uncover secrets of her past, secrets to explain how different she really is from all around her. The road to freedom and clarity is never an easy one, as she discovers.
Sparks and Embers, by Tim James, a fun story concerning a young man heels over head in love with the girl of his dreams…and the traveling hero who dramatically affects his life. Probably my favorite of the bunch, particularly for the shock ending.
Markus, the Waking Man, by John Brady, is maybe the darkest of the stories, as a rough and tumble mercenary sees there is more to life than merely a death, all thanks to a little boy. Its spin on the Fey is especially interesting in showing a broader perspective of geopolitics in the mosaic continent.
The Price of a Soldier’s Soul, by Kirsten Cross, is the most solid and polished story, full of calm flourish as a warrior finds the promotion he never dreamed of into an elite sect of his emperor’s finest. There is wonderfully descriptive and evocative passages to this one, much more pretty and thoughtful than the brutality the warrior faces himself. The Far East of this world is well represented.
This is a greatly imaginative package of stories, with each flowing into the next like the kind of mixtape that you have to listen to all through its duration, by absolutely irresistible compulsion. And even still, the more we learn about this strange new world the more questions we find racing through our minds. Thankfully, I hear from a little birdy that more is in the works. Fantastic, well-thought out fiction of shockingly high calibre. Breachspace Chronicles, despite its many dark moments, is a tremendously enveloping escape, with piercing characterizations and engaging narratives teasing you through like a long night’s many troubling dreams.