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Work with Occasional Molemen
Jeremiah Tolbert
Amazon Digital Services, 36 pages

Work with Occasional Molemen
Jeremiah Tolbert
Jeremiah Tolbert's other short fiction includes "The Yeti Behind You" (2007), "Captain Blood's Booty" (2007), "Arties Aren't Stupid" (2008), "The Culture Archivist" (2009), "The Godfall's Chemsong" (2009), "One Click Banishment" (2010) and "You Have Been Turned into a Zombie by a Friend (2011).

Jeremiah Tolbert Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Work with Occasional Molemen is a mind-blow. It feels like a cross between a malformed L. Frank Baum Oz book and Daniel Woodrell's backwoods noir, Winter's Bone.

Mel, the first-person narrator in this stylized narrative, tells of life in Topeka, Kansas where men have come home with a severe case of alopecia from their battle with the flying-saucer Martians. Mole men, however, are a relatively more recent phenomenon. The locals spin all kinds of speculation about where the molemen's political allegiances lie.

Meanwhile, Mel has actually seen one -- waved to it, in fact. The next time he sees one, it's a trio: sprawled across his house, drunken, having raided his fridge, trashed his place, and deposited vomit on his carpet. In the morning, he finds not only a mole hole in the basement bored through the cement, but also assorted gems the molemen left behind to compensate for the damage, which Mel hopes to use to get out from under his debt to his grandfather.

While mind-reading molemen are an interesting, rarely used speculative conceit, the more intriguing speculation is the "family" of which Mel is a part. They are typical bigots against anything different: Martians, molemen, whatnot. When Mel finds the gems, family members note that something fishy is up -- though they may be mistaken about what that fishiness is about -- and want to be cut in. The union leaders, from the plant where he works, want him to get the moles to unionized, and his mafia-like grandfather wants him to lead the family business after Mel cuts off the hands of the mole who killed a family member.

One of the best character moments from the narrative finds Mel, a passive introspective among those who think with their fists, contemplating a family member's habits as they're spraying ant poison in tunnels located under the school:

  "[Chet] tipped over his tanks of poison and sat down on them, took out a chaw of tobacco and slipped it into his cheek. I repressed a shudder and took a long drag off my cigarette. Nasty habit, chaw. They made us watch a video in junior high about how it can make your whole jaw fall off. I'd take lung cancer any day."  

If you like a solid if free-wheeling plot, spoked with probing quirky speculations and spun with a grown-in-the-sticks style, you'll find Jeremiah Tolbert's novella-length ebook a bargain entertainment.

Copyright © 2012 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.

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