by: Jonathan Pongratz
Rory Bennels lives in a world ruled by a business entity known as the Corporation. For years he’s executed cerebral uploads for the recently deceased, but when the famed anarchist Epher Lore ends up in his lab, a series of events occur that shakes Rory’s world to the core. – Goodreads
*Received in exchange for honest review*
Running a swift 37 pages, Conscience is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic dystopian world. As with short stories, its a fairly quick-paced as the story sees Rory experiencing an error with his cerebral upload that would usually go smoothly. The story gives a little slice of this world and who the Corporation is. As the plot dives deeper between the interaction of these two characters, Rory starts seeing another side to the world that he thinks that he knows and having to test which truth that he would believe to lead up to the end.
For a short story, the characters actually get rather padded out especially since the anarchist Epher Lore is one that takes on this different approach of being transferred into a robot by accident and as they call it, becomes immortal for most part which makes it a bad situation for Rory and the consequences from the Corporation that he is afraid to face. The dialogue between Epher Lore and Rory also have a lot of weight in the whole scenario as the characters somehow build their understanding of each other. Epher Lore is more than the anarchist that he has been caught for while Rory also develops throughout the story from the starting point until the ending. For a short story, its a bit of surprise how well the characters are written.
Conscience is really just a snippet of this futuristic dystopia and the world that it could be with the Corporation and these characters and some robots/AI put in the mix. It outlines a general state of the world on hand and yet leaves so much room to build this world. Some of the individual science fiction elements might not be completely unseen or unique but its how Jonathan Pongratz delivers and puts together these elements that gives it a distinctive turn of events. With how this story ends, it leaves an intriguing space to revisit this world if ever he decides to write another story and one that I’d definitely be interested to read more of this world if it happens.
Other Jonathan Pongratz stories: Reaper
Reaper: A Horror Novella
By: Jonathan Pongratz
Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.
That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.
Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents? – Goodreads
*Book received in exchange of honest review*
The Reaper is an interesting novella to review. On one hand, there are a few elements here that aren’t exactly unique and yet, the execution and pacing of the story definitely gives it a boost because its length gives it a story that keeps moving forward, leaving enough space for mystery and resolution without ever feeling like it takes a break. Its definitely one of the more gripping stories. The story and set up itself is fairly predictable. I’m not someone who gets too bothered by horror tropes as long as its well-executed. Its where this novella works as its a gripping story from beginning to the end.
There is a bit of a lore in the making as it uses a few elements of beliefs like the Boogeyman, children as well as taking the door to another realm as a basis. At the same time, its much more than just believing a child’s side of the story but its set up as a recount of a situation which makes it start from the end. In some cases, those set-ups actually don’t work well especially for horror tales because they take away the threat to the protagonist. Reaper still manages to keep things moving at one direction and where it works really well is the twist of the end that gives substance to the ending as it leads into another rather unexpected situation.
Its not easy to talk about a novella without giving away spoilers so I’m going to keep this fairly short. There is quite a bit to like about Reaper. Seeing as I’ve been rather picky with horror stories since I’m a tad desensitized from the amount of horror movies that I watch in general, however, this one was definitely a page-turner. It had some creepy moments and the story does take a nice twist of events. Overall, its a fun one even if the set up feels familiar, the second half definitely makes up for it.
Score: 4.5 out of 5