Published by Subterranean Press on January 31st 2021
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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The only favor the aliens do for Clint Beecham when they abduct him is give him a shirt that says DO NOT EAT on it in their language. He’s told that as a physicist, he is to be reserved, along with five other scientists, for a mysterious purpose.
But fifty thousand other humans on board the interstellar scout ship are scheduled to be butchered and frozen, a food supply for the long journey to the alien homeworld. Clint and the other Reserves can’t stand by and let that happen.
Ayesha is a biologist and Deepali a geologist; Oscar is a meteorologist and Gregory specializes in robotics; Hanh is a researcher in marine biology. Together they’re humanity’s last unlikely hope. Because if they don’t find a way to stop the ravenous aliens from reporting that they’ve found a planet full of delicious creatures to eat, the fifty thousand humans on board will only be the first of billions: the entire earth will become an all-you-can-eat buffet.
This is a short story and therefore a short review.
Clint and his friend Derek are hiking through the park when they come upon two little girls…who aren’t actually little girls. The first clue would be when the one in the unicorn shirt jumped on Clint’s friend and began to eat him.
It seems that Aliens have received the messages that we keep sending into space. These particular ones were tasked with finding a new planet since their sun will soon explode. They weren’t planning to head our way but since we have so thoughtfully invited them, they were happy to take a look at our lovely blue orb. After having a thorough look around the neighborhood, they have decided that Earth is the perfect spot to relocate. Usually, their biggest problem is what to do with the indigenous lifeforms already on the planet. But, bonus, it turns out we are quite tasty and nothing like chicken. So Earth will become a brand new all you can eat buffet.
The aliens have already loaded 50,000 humans for the long trip home. Of course, they don’t realize that the first few weeks will involve the slaughtering and prepping of all their tasty bits for snacks for the aliens on the trek to their home world. So far, they are quietly passive in their pens.
Clint and a few others scientists who have been set aside and have all been given a special shirt which reads, Do Not Eat, are being tasked with something else. But they also know that once they complete their assigned tasks, there will be no reason for them to keep the t-shirt on this little unplanned vacation. Clint and his new friends will need to figure out how to stop the ship from reaching its destination before the news hits about the more than 7 billion tasty morsels available for take out and just waiting in the Milky Way.
This idea was originally a very short story which Kevin Hearne wrote, and I don’t remember for what originally, but he posted a link once on his newsletter and it was release in the audiobook First Dangle, which was a bunch of short stories from the Iron Druid Chronicles world and which ended with the story of Emily the little girl who was a space alien checking out this planet and its tasty offerings.
This was an interesting novella which mostly presents how the human race will pull together, regardless of race or gender, when they need to fight an outside force and the sacrifices that people would be willing to make when it is necessary to protect those they love. Stated plainly, even if they can outwit the aliens and take over the spaceship, who on the ship would know how to pilot a spaceship nor is there any GPS app to help steer them home. So these humans know that there is no happy ending for them except to not become lunch. In fact, the aliens only have enough food to feed the humans for a few weeks at best since their plan was to begin butchering and prepping them for the freezers for their own meals. Again, even if they take the ship, they have very little time in order to figure out steering and navigation before the foods runs out for the 50,000 human aboard.
While I found the story entertaining and enjoyed the battled between the humans and aliens, this really couldn’t have been more than the short story that it was. Kevin would have padded it and drawn out some of the scenes but overall, this isn’t something that is going to equate to a long novel or a series.
“There is, in fact, nowhere you can go on this ship where we won’t hear what you say. Plan whatever you want! We’ll be ready. We’ve dealt with hostile prey before, you know. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. You’re undoubtedly the tastiest, though. Okay! Need anything else?”
Ayesha shook her head. “We’ll call you if we do.”
Emily giggled. “This part is super fun, you guys. You’re going to try something stupid because you feel like you don’t have a choice and you’re right, you don’t. But it’s so amusing. And profitable! We have a pool going on which of you attacks first and whether or not you’ll actually kill one of us. Good luck plotting your revolt! But don’t forget to also do the work or your families die.”
She and the other aliens exited, chucking to themselves and smiling those toothy grins at us, and Oscar flipped his middle finger at their departing back. “Inche culos,” he groused.
“I’m starting to think we are merely shipboard entertainment,” Gregory said. “Something to relieve the tedium of a long journey. They don’t really require our predictions. Like I said, I cannot even conceive of where robotics and electronics will be in sixteen hundred years. I’d have difficulty imagining one hundred. And how can you even begin to predict physics, Clint?”
“Why bother picking up scientist, then?” Hanh wondered aloud. “If they wanted a military challenge instead of our predictions, why not pick up some veterans or active military?”
“They did,” Ayesha said. “I’m ex-military.”
“Me, too,” Oscar admitted.
“As am I,” Gregory said. “Though obviously of a different generation and much further removed from my service.”
“Shit,” Deepali said. “So we are entertainment.”
Hahn nodded. “Bastards are just playing with their food.”
Ayesha raised a finger. “Speaking of which: Did y’all get probed? Because I got probed yesterday. They said they weren’t planning on it but then they realized we had an expectation of it as a species and they just wanted to satisfy our cultural kink before they got to the important stuff. What the hell was that?”
“Yea, they sadi that to me also,” Deepali remarked, a haunted expression on her face. “Weird.”
“I told them I did not expect that shit and even if I did they should defy my expectations and leave my sack alone,” Oscar said.
“They did you too?” Ayesha asked.
“Yeah. Don’t know who gave them that idea.”
“Uh. That might have been me,” I said. “Sorry.”
Ayesha’s eyes flared bright with anger. “You the one told them we expected to be probed, Clint? They put a metal clip on my hoohah and ran a hundred volts through it.”
“Look, they got me too. I’m sorry.”
I was immediately the least popular human on board and told me ass would never be forgiven for that shit.