When an Antarctic expedition comes upon a series of undiscovered islands, the scientists on board must investigate. On these islands, they find plant and animal life unlike anything anywhere else on earth. Many of these species are large, possibly straight out of a pre-human era, and in order to record and photograph as many of these creatures as possible, the group splits up. Giant, Pteranodon-like beasts nest high above and immense beetles scurry in the thick foliage, as the scientists struggle to collect as much data as they can before nightfall. But when night comes, half the group doesn’t return to the ship. And the subsequent search-and-rescue becomes an all-out battle for survival.
Jason V. Brock’s Milton’s Children is a novella that will leave you longing for more, and a worthy continuation of the “lost world” subgenre. The style and storytelling structure read like something taken from a 1930s pulp, and I mean that in a good way. The story brings to mind its “lost world” predecessors: Doyle’s The Lost World, Burroughs’s The Land that Time Forgot, and Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, to name a few, but without the Victorian language. The story is at once modern and nostalgic, quite a fete.
My only major complaint about the story is the style used when the search-and-rescue party discovers the missing group’s video recording. It is laid out almost like a screenplay, which is a clever idea, but it doesn’t quite work. The character directions in this section overwhelm the dialogue, which slows the story and makes for choppy reading. Besides this, Brock’s tale offers a treat for fans of the genre, with allusions throughout (the title, character names, the creatures on the islands, etc.).
Over the last few years, Brock, editor of [Namel3ss] Magazine, and the man behind the films Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man and The Ackermonster Chronicles! has been mixing weird fiction’s past with its present in interesting ways, and Milton’s Children is no exception. Pick this up and then pre-order his forthcoming collection from Hippocampus Press, Simulacrum and Other Possible Realities.
Milton’s Children by Jason V. Brock is currently available from Bad Moon Books as a signed/limited hardcover for $25.00