Author: Joe Follansbee

Publisher: Joseph G. Follansbee / Fyddeye Media (October 20, 2017)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC


I’ve decided one of my favorite attributes I look for in new sci fi is the freshness or originality in the premise, settings, or characters. Whether I’m reading space opera or dystopian speculative fiction,   I like to be pleasantly surprised and not feel like I’m reading yet another paint-by-numbers adventure.

Pleasantly surprised is exactly the vibe I felt delving into Carbon Run, a dystopian yarn that doesn’t follow the usual molds. As the story opens, we learn about a future after a methane “spike” that aggravated a planet already plagued with global warming. After that,  crimes against the environment are what gets the guilty and innocent alike into trouble. Government agents hunt anyone who is exceeding their limits on use of resources, being excessive about leaving their carbon footprint, not properly recycling their waste or, most heinous of all, contributing to the extinction of a species.    In this future, fossil fuels are banned, pirates smuggle oil, and governments erase citizens' identities. 

In Carbon Run, Bill Penn becomes a criminal when he accedentily set his house on fire and the flames destroy a nearby sanctuary of an endangered species of magpies. Deputy Inspector Janine Kilel begins to hound and chase Penn feeling the law must be strictly adhered to and claims no excuse mitigates the destruction of the bird sanctuary.  While Penn goes on the run, his daughter Ann is used as a pawn to track him down. At the same time, we meet former businessman and now beggar monk Martin Skribb who is justly blamed for the “spike” and has had his identity purged from all public records.   Equally, if not more so, culpable is Molly Bain, a woman with a scientific past, business-minded  present, and is a high-priced prostitute. She is also Penn’s former wife and the mother of Ann who abandoned her family fifteen years ago.   Among the men, or creatures, enamored with her is Gore, a mutant that is part human, part tiger. (I must admit, Gore’s genetic mutation seems a bit contrived, a gratuitous character descriptor tossed in to make the book seem more sci fi than it is. Just my impression . . .)

All these characters come together in surprising ways on ships near Russia when old family dramas are more or less resolved, ecological crimes are solved, and justice, if not the strict letter of the law, is served.   

Readers may be forgiven for being a tad confused about whether Carbon Run is the first or second book in the series as it’s listed at Amazon and elsewhere as Book 2 but press releases proclaim it’s book 1. Apparently, Carbon Runwas preceeded by a novelette, The Mother Earth Insurgency. Two sequels are in the pipeline for 2018, City of Ice and Dreams and Restoration.

Until then, Carbon Run is certainly worth the interest of sci fi fans with a taste for futuristic, terrestrial adventures with very well-drawn characters. It’s a nice tapestry of storylines that weave together pretty much seamlessly.