Flesh & Wires
by Jackie Hatton
Review by Mel Jacob
Aqueduct Press ISBN/ITEM#: 9781619760851
Date: 01 November 2015
This science fiction novel by Jackie Hatton, Flesh and Wires, is set in a post-apocalypse Connecticut. Some thirty years after an alien invasion destroyed most urban centers and killed most of the population, scattered pockets of survivors, mainly women, struggle to survive. Then a space ship arrives.
Aliens had surgically transformed many of the women by implanting wires within their bodies so they could telepathically communicate with their slaves. It also gave the women incredible strength with the ability to move things at a distance. The treatment stops them from aging, but made them unable to conceive.
The aliens also took the existing children and gave them strange powers not fully understood by any survivors. Three years after landing, all the aliens mysteriously died. Because of their enhancements, the wired women became leaders and protectors of the strange children and the naturals, those untreated. One such leader is Lo, the leader of the small Saugatuck community.
Men are in short supply because the aliens killed most of them as are untreated women. Because they hold the hope of the future, they are nurtured. Trust is in short supply.
After a distress call, Lo and others attack a group of strangers, thugs and criminals. One of her people is killed. Lo knew nothing about these strangers except they were not from Earth.
When another space ship, different from the destroying aliens, arrives, fears reignite. The ship opens to reveal two men. One is Will, Lo's brother who worked for NASA and must have escaped into space, and the other is Bob, who claims to be an Alaskan and also escaped. Both were rescued by the Orbiters, a humanoid species living far away. Will tries to use his relationship with Lo to accomplish his mission which he fails to tell her about -- possible resettlement. However, Lo doesn't trust him. His plan to resettle Earth has already caused problems and more are certain to follow.
Hatton tweaks a few familiar tropes: alien invasion, enhanced humans, small communities struggling for survival, and ingenious humans overcoming impossible odds to survive. The death of the aliens is convenient and never explained. The flawed characters are well drawn and interesting. While there is a nice twist, unfortunately for the readers, the ending is a bit contrived and leaves them wondering what happens next.
So far, there is no hint of a sequel. Hatton indicated on her blog that her next novel would be a near future set in Amsterdam.