Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Review: 'Colonies Lost' by Ian J. Malone

“Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times…asking the same question— who is US Deputy Marshal Trip Hackett?”

North Carolina author Ian J. Malone earned his degree from Florida State University, and has worked in radio, law enforcement, and military contracting. He is a sci-fi author of four published books but has written in a variety of arenas ranging from public health to news and sports. Being legally blind Ian is an avid fan of audiobooks and the great outdoors. Malone is an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. 

Ian’s facile style of writing makes reading his stories a pleasure on many levels: he manages to take us places we’ve never even imagined (the sci-fi element) and places we thought we understood (history, law enforcement, government) and blends these in a manner that results in his pouring out gold form his pen. 

In fine contemporary style he opens the door on his main characters background: ‘Trip Hackett halted at the door to his boss’s office and took a breath. Concise and direct. Those had been the words of advice from his union rep prior to this meeting. That’s how you answer their questions. No more, no less. If you don’t have an answer, don’t give one. No conjecture, no statements of clarity, no theories. Just answer then shut your mouth. Trip exhaled, briefly second-guessing his decision to leave his rep out of this. Once more unto the breach. He knocked on the door. “Ah, Hackett. Come in.” The heavyset man in the Walmart power tie rose from his seat, came out from behind his desk, and extended his hand in greeting. “Thank you so much for coming. Can I get you anything? Coffee, maybe?” Trip shook the proffered hand. “No, thanks. I’m fine.” Trip had entered the room to find his boss— Chief Deputy US Marshal Walton A. Gold of the Durham, North Carolina, field office— joined by a second man of Indian descent. He, too, wore a suit, and Trip recognized him at once. “Hackett, you remember Niles Bedi.” Gold gestured to his colleague. “Our liaison to the Assistant US Attorney’s Office?” Trip acknowledged the man with a nod. “Good,” Gold said. “Don’t mind him. He’s just here to observe this conversation and keep things on the up and up. Pretend he’s not even in the room.” Trip chewed his lip. He of all people understood the gravity of having a witness present, especially today.’ And into the story as the plot outline supplies:

‘Trip Hackett needs a beer. On the heels of his latest suspension, the disgraced US Marshal packs up his Stetson and returns home to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where he hopes to circle his wagons and find a new means of supporting his family. He knew the shooting had been justified. However, with Trip’s history plus the white-hot spotlight on cops these days, and the deceased turning out to be the son of a Washington senator, he bet his paltry retirement savings that his time in investigations was over. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Smith, an odd-looking stranger from out of town with a proposition. If Trip will help Smith’s employers find a missing girl then the former will never want for money again. Grudgingly, Trip takes the case, expecting it will be the last of his career. He may be right, though for reasons he could’ve never possibly imagined. Trip soon goes on a journey to escape his present, only to run straight into a past he never knew existed. Trip Hackett’s travel to the stars will bring him face-to-face with the answer to America’s greatest unsolved mystery.’
Imaginative, funny, frightening, tense, and a very fine journey into the unknown – these are just some of the elements to be enjoyed from COLONIES LOST. Ian J. Malone sits well on the stage of emerging artists! 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.