By Mike Griffiths
McHugh, Jessica. The Sky: The World. Published by Reliquary Press.
The Sky: The World is a short, intense and entertaining book, the kind you might like to read in one sitting if you had the chance. With summer heading toward us, this would be the perfect book for a trip to the beach or a vacation. Jessica McHugh takes us to a fantastic world, similar to the alternative realities created by Michael Moorcock, particularly in his Warlords of the Air series.
The book focuses on the Sherwood Six, a team of mechanics and pilots that have rejected the Air Force in favor of stunt-flying. The team is led by the flamboyant Jack Racine. Things are going well enough for Jack. He enjoys his life of fame, women and intoxicants until his brother’s untimely death.
Once he begins to investigate the cause of his brother’s death, he unravels the mysteries his sibling was involved with and Jack quickly realizes that his playboy lifestyle might have to be set aside. He may have to replace his debauchery with loftier goals if he is to not only avenge his brother, whom he suspects was murdered, but even replace him as an employee for the enigmatic Dr. Azaz.
The world where Jack and his friends live is far different from our own, mostly as a result of the wondrous discoveries of Dr. Azaz. The Doctor himself keeps hidden away and out of sight, but is singlehandedly responsible for altering, not only science, but the history of humankind. First, he developed a process which allows all women to conceive children on their own with the use of crystalline pools. This quickly becomes the norm and children born through copulation are looked on as inferiors.
More importantly for Jack and his fellows, the great Azaz also invented aircraft. But what would such a famous genius need with Jack’s brother? And when the doctor summons Jack, what could he possibly want with a hedonistic person like him?
Ms. McHugh is inventive and full of surprises and takes the reader into a world that is hard to second-guess and predict. Despite this, after all the time she takes to set up this amazing world, we find the adventure over too quickly. Also of note: Jack’s drug use could upset some sensitive readers.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys exploring new worlds and unraveling intricate plots. The book is unique and I look forward to exploring more of what this author has to offer.
The Sky: The World is available from the publisher.