Thursday 7 July 2022

Jovian Heat - Karina Fabian

Jovian Heat
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ISBN 9781956489040

I absolutely love the books and published short stories by Karina Fabian. I have not read anything that disappointed or even that was ho-hum. The stories usually enthral, surprise, make me laugh. But they also have an undercurrent that inspires and challenges. But this story hit me like a brick! 

Wow! Just Wow! I cannot help but hope that Fabian has plans to expand her works in this universe. The cover states that it is:

“A tale of genetic engineering and murder in the unforgiving atmosphere of Jupiter’s next Red Spot Storm.”

This story was previously published in the Planetary Anthologies: Jupiter, back in 2020. I have picked up a few of those anthologies but have not got around to reading them yet. And the main reason I picked them up was Fabian’s offering.  The description of the story is:

“By 2867, we’d not only cracked our genetic code, but could stack the nucleotides like gods playing with toy blocks - yet we were still human, with the same noble desires to do what’s right at war with the basest needs of our Fallen state.

There was a storm brewing in Gravstead, but all Cass wanted was to go home, soak in a metallic bath and ride out the hormonal storm that affected every Jovian female, heavy and guppy alike. But when her old partner brings her a time-sensitive case involving a half-breed infant, she can't say no. Someone has to find the father and make him pay for the genetic resequencing to save the baby's life.

The only problem - the father died months before the child was conceived.”

This story raises a lot of questions, questions around medical ethics, transgenderism, prostitution or paid companionship, and oligarchy. Just to skim the surface. In some ways it reads like a female Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in space, a genetically modified but a gumshoe.  The story begins with these words:

“They say that if man were meant to live on Jupiter, God would have given him thicker skin and hydrogen-processing gills. That same “they” also said if man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings. Of course, by 2867, we’d not only cracked our genetic code, but could stack the nucleotides like gods playing with toy blocks. We gave ourselves wings or fins and gills and skins to suit any environment we wanted, and to hell with what God wanted. In the end, we could alter our bodies to suit, but we were still human, with the same noble desires to do what’s right at war with the basest needs of our Fallen state. God wasn’t letting us off so easy.

I sat at my desk with my feet propped up, staring out the window at the throng of life above and below me. The orange sky had taken on a reddish cast; the long-anticipated storm was coming at last, and while the meteorologists said it’d be a short one —only a couple of years —there were still whispers that Gravstead was going to be the next Red Spot. Looking at the number of movers on the flyways, I had to wonder if someone knew something I didn’t. Not that I could afford to leave.
A sudden gust knocked a group of floating Jovians into traffic. Vehicles swerved. One bumped an unlucky floater, who fluttered off in the opposite direction, shaking his fist. I imagined a few obscenities in honor of our planet’s namesake and his lovers were used.

I shook my head. Guppies.

When the geneticists designed humans for Jupiter’s environment, they fell into two camps. One wanted to create super-dense molecular structures that could withstand the incredible atmospheric pressures —the heavies. The other decided a more elegant solution was an inflated barrier between dense skin and the more delicate internal organs —the guppies, because the amusing result was that they float instead of sink like us heavies would. But floating or walking, we were all just trying to get ahead in this gaseous soup we called home.

I pressed an oxygen mister against my gills and took another long drag. Yeah, I know. It’ll kill me eventually, but I was celebrating. I’d just finished a case, digging up dirt on my client’s soon-to-be-ex-husband, though with the tears on her arm fins, I would have thought she already had enough grounds for divorce. I dunno. Maybe her new boyfriend was beating her. She didn’t seem like the type to have good judgement, and women did stupid things when they were in heat. It wasn’t my business. She paid; I delivered. Now I was going to enjoy a good mist, then go hide away for a week.”

Our detective or PI is Cassie Lane, a former police officer. A case is brought to her by her former partner, Reed, he has been told to ignore the evidence because it points to the Pel family one of the most powerful and wealthy on the planet. The case is messy but a premature life is on the line. And Cass will not leave any stone unturned. To find out what happens and how you will need to read the story.

Often in the end of Fabian’s works, she tells us the story of how the story came to be. That was missing this time, and I greatly missed it. But I got to tell you I keep thinking about this story; I have read it and know I will read it again. I have recommended it to several friends. It is a short story but one you could have several conversations around, breaking it down. An excellent read by an always entertaining author!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland

DragonEye PI Series:
DragonEye PI Novels:
?.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
?.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)

DragonEye PI Short Stories:

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
Space Traipse Stories

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind

Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity

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