Vince Churchill

January 14, 2008

The Dead Shall Inherit The Earth and The Blackest Heart, by Vince Churchill

Here I am supporting an effectively unpublished author, and fairly happy to be doing so given the results.

Vince Churchill has published both of these under his own imprint, and I can see why. The books themselves are a little rough, especially grammatically, with the odd spelling error and certain elements of style and plot that are definitely in need of an editor here and there.

Having said that, if you can get past the slightly juvenile stylistic elements they’re both reasonably good reads. The Dead… is probably the better of the two, dealing as it does with a plague outbreak on a future world that might or might not be a natural event, or perhaps something more scientifically sinister. The plague causes outbreaks of uncontrollable rage, self-mutilation and homicidal intent in anyone it touches, and some of the scenes are quite grotesque and memorable in an Event Horizon way.

There are some plot lapses — where the interstellar cloud of sparks that suddenly transformed a freezerfull of dead people into actual zombies came from is something I must have missed on reading, to be charitable — but in general it hangs well together and kept me going to the bloodthirsty end.  A mixture of the aforementioned Event Horizon, Aliens, perhaps Starship Troopers and Dawn Of The Dead as filmic homages, with Churchill not being afraid to show his love, raw as it is, for all these films in print.

Blackest Heart is more difficult to classify. The Star Marshalls idea — gunslingers in space, plot effectively stolen from A Fistful Of Dollars or practically any Clint Eastwood spaghetti western — comes across as very juvenile, with the bad guys being Black, Monstrous Evil and the good guys, with the exception of the lead, showing up as somewhat, er, cardboard. The action scenes are reasonably well written, with appropriate amounts of flying and cauterized body parts and a jungle chock-full of ‘orrible monsters, and there’s a hell of a showdown at the end, with hundreds going down. Although exactly how stupid the bad guys are to walk into a trap like that… hmmm.

Major saving grace? A killer twist at the end that I should have seen coming and didn’t.

Minor grizzle common to both? Vince, please try and find yourself a cover artist. I mean, please.  

So. I bought these two to support a new, struggling author and I’m fairly happy with them. Also as a kick to myself to get writing again, I guess. I think Churchill himself will improve in leaps and bounds now that he’s out there, and move away from the more embarrassing elements of his writing (excessive and unrealistic sex, deus ex machina plot points (aaargh! the Nii!) and the previously-noted grammar and style issues. I can only hope that his enthusiasm revs my slumberous and horribly corroded writing machinery into gear as well… 😦

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