Author: James Runyan

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN-10: 1470168618

ISBN-13: 978-1470168612

Ravage the Moon and Other Short Stories consists of four short stories of which three are divided up into a number of relatively short “chapters,” so that they read more as novellas than as conventional stories in this genre. To start, the Farkases are no usual family—after all, Captain Bruce Farkas has to be locked up once a month in a specially constructed underground bunker, while his son, instead of having to worry, like his friends do, “about who to ask to the Northwest Middle School Dance,” has more pressing concerns regarding how to survive turning into a bloodthirsty and rapacious lycanthrope. In the first longish short story in this collection, Runyan’s protagonists are revealed as full-blooded characters who are capable of responding warmly towards one another within the domestic environs, but who yet, in changed form, have the strength and ferocity of uncontrollable beasts of prey.

The fast pace of Runyan’s stories, due to their concentration on sequenced action, gives a sense of immediacy and briskness to the text that never allows the emotionalism of his characters to get in the way of his storytelling. However, despite these stories being of “danger, suspense and intrigue,” they are rich in their humanity and understanding of the human psyche. One cannot help but feel a great sense of empathy for Runyan’s lead characters, due to them all being, so clearly, exceptional and gifted in their own way. Instead of becoming alienated from them due to their uniqueness and differentness, one is drawn to admire them, and to view the conventional average man (as portrayed in the more minor characters) as lacking in substance and possessing a meagreness of outlook that renders them insignificant in comparison.

Runyan’s deadpan and straightforward tone makes for fluid reading, as his descriptions are never detailed enough to warrant one feeling queasy, despite some of the scenes being horrifying in their implication. The matter-of-fact expression effectively conveys Runyan’s wry sense of humor and thoroughgoing pragmatism, an instance of which can be seen in his explanation: “Wolves don’t easily give up their food, and it took a juicy leg with it to feed upon when it was safe to rest.”

The ongoing dialogue between the scientific and the natural world is a theme that occupies much of Runyan’s work, with his stance ranging from that of the cynic to one in which he clearly voices his sensitive appreciation, and his desire for the retention and conservation, of the wonders of which this universe is capable (which is most clearly expressed in the shortest of his stories here, “Brilliant Paradise”). The broadness of the author’s perspective is shown by the historical and spiritual journey that takes place in “The Gateway,” spanning over a century. The wide variety of Runyan’s themes and the contemporaneity of his interests, including a concern with the interactive possibilities of the virtual world to which gamers have access (in “Terror Form”), should ensure the appeal of his work to an extremely widespread audience.

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