Science Fiction

Murder & Mayhem In the God Box On A Billion Dollars A Day

Edited by: Marc S. Glasser

Authors: Judith Tracy, Robert B. Schofield, & Ryck Neube

Published By: Padwolf Publishing

Reviewed by Melissa Minners




            Murder & Mayhem In the God Box On A Billion Dollars A Day is actually a compilation of three novellas.  Someone had the idea to arrange the titles of the story to create one large eye-catching humorous title.  Quite a creative little strategy to use in drawing in a potential reader.  The novel is published by Padwolf Publishing who has given us Murhpy’s Lore, The Starscape Project, and Destiny’s Door, all creative and well-liked novels.  Each story in this compilation places the reader in an entirely different world.  Each is about survival, but on a vastly different scale from story to story. 

            Murder, Mayhem, and Music by Judith Tracy is a story set in the future of our universe.  What would happen in the interplanetary courts declared murder for hire to be legal?  What if you could get a license approved to murder an annoying neighbor or a business rival?  In this science fiction novel, murder is legal so long as you have an approved permit. Morlax, an alien being from the planet Orf, is an employee for the firm Murder, Mayhem, and Music, Inc., which has evolved from a monthly music club to a licenser of murders. But Morlax lives a double life as a member of an interplanetary defense group charged with keeping the universe safe from the being known as the Great Ordainer of Destruction. Having remained dormant for many years, the universe had begun to feel safe from the ominous being known to have destroyed numerous worlds in his great acts of cleansing and purging. Morlax had always expected his return. Now that the Great Ordainer has returned, what can Morlax do to persuade him to veer from his path of destruction?

            The God Box by Robert B. Schofield takes us into the world of Slater and Redeye, data mercenaries extraordinaire.  Their latest mission, to gain access to a computer device that allows the user to talk to God.  But gaining access to this device will not be easy.  Along the way, Slater and Redeye must fight the forces of voodoo practitioners, zombies, and computer viruses to meet their goal. 

            In Mars On A Billion Dollars A Day by Ryck Neube, Paula Caudill is captain of an expedition to Mars funded by her billionaire eccentric employer Ten Carl Richards.  Having always dreamed of fulfilling her dead father’s wish to explore space, Paula agrees to embark on this ill-advised mission formulated by her boss.  Everyone in the free world is predicting failure for the expedition, but the crew seems to be in good hopes.  That is, until communications start to be jammed and corners cut by the billionaire in an effort to push up the launch date start to become a serious issue to the success of the venture.  Worse yet, one of the crew members may be attempting to sabotage the mission. 

            The concept behind Murder, Mayhem and Music – that of contract killing becoming legalized – is actually not wholly unbelievable.  With the world’s population on the rise and the improvements made in medical and technical fields, it is not so incredible a concept that the world might come up with its own brand of population control.   There are definite political undertones in this tale, masked by humor, that give the reader cause to stop and think about the world we live in.  From mixed relationships to the moral corruptibility of individuals to the concept of God, no subject goes untouched.  The author teaches lessons through humor.  One such lesson that may give the reader pause is that humanity as a whole will always attempt to circumvent/control the power of whatever “supreme entity” they believe in, be it “Mother Nature”, God, the Great Ordainer, or another such entity.  This message is brought across in a clever and humorous style, never leaving the reader with the feeling of being preached to.     

            The God Box is an action thriller involving computer technology.  The message behind this tale involves the necessity of some individuals for ultimate power over those in the world around them and the price people are willing to pay to achieve this goal.  Slater and Redeye are intriguing characters and their knack for getting out of difficult situations rivals that of CIA agent Jack Bauer on the television series 24.  The story is action packed, with Slater and Redeye battling a constant wave of adversaries with everything from high-powered weapons, computer intel, hand-to-hand combat, and even voodoo magic.  The reader is kept on the edge of his seat, wondering just who is behind all of the attacks and just what attack will come next.

            Mars On A Billion Dollars A Day is a science fiction novel with a message about persistence, perseverance and believing in ones self.  Paula Caudill is a character readers can relate to and root for.  Ten Carl Richards represents everything the average Joe hates about billionaires and is a perfect choice as the pseudo-villain.  The story about the hapless expedition is interesting enough, but the subplot about a saboteur lurking amidst the crew makes the tale much more intriguing.  The fact that Paula begins to blame the mission’s problems on “Caudill luck” is easy to understand as every reader has probably done this at one time or another in their life.  Paula Caudill is written in such a way that the reader actually cares about her survival.

            The styles of the writers and the creativity involved in creating the tales included in Murder & Mayhem In the God Box On A Billion Dollars A Day are greatly appreciated.  The authors go out of their way to create characters that readers can relate to and care about.  The plots of each story are intriguing and the surprise endings come all too quickly.  It is this reader’s fervent hope that each writer considers creating whole novels about the characters these short stories center around.  Overall, Murder & Mayhem In the God Box On A Billion Dollars A Day is a fast-paced, well-written, extremely enjoyable, and highly recommended read.           


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