Racers of the Night by Brad Torgersen is Fantastic

Racers of the Night by Brad Torgersen is FantasticIn the hour since I finished reading Brad Torgersen’s second collection of short stories, Racers of the Night, I’ve tried to come up with clever ways of saying nice things about Brad’s short fiction.

Really. I have.

He’s the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème, the ace in the hole, as fine as wine…

But clichés just don’t seem to do justice. If anything they diminish.

Because this collection is full of awesome, maybe it’s best if I just say just a few words.

With each story in Racers of the Night I found myself more impressed. Brad’s often scoffed at the highfalutin style of heavy handed academic types, and his style, artistry, and story-telling emphasizes an experience that immerses the reader in something that is entertaining, even when it has a message.

The short stories of Racers of the Night, and one novella, are each an exciting adventure, sensitive to the human condition and what the future might contain. Even when there is some social commentary— if science-fiction doesn’t contain some kind of commentary, it doesn’t really seem like science-fiction—Brad’s writing is driven by entertainment value, first and foremost, which Brad does well. The worlds he writes are so fully formed, his stories so engrossing, that I do a mental double take when i catch the underlying message. To paraphrase Henry James, a writer is someone on whom nothing is lost, and to write good science-fiction is to notice everything that the future might hold. Brad’s stories are clearly examinations of what happens when the future arrives. Very little seems lost on him.

But I digress. My point is: the stories are so entertaining that I had to remind myself that Brad actually was, with several stories, addressing what could be a sensitive topics.

In two, for example, Torgersen writes futuristic noir with echoes of Philip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, but with entirely a flavor all Torgersen’s own. Both revolve around the sex trade, one addressing the damage the trade does to the woman and the other why people might choose to turn to the prostitution for a livelihood. Without glorifying or titillating, Brad raises questions about the personal cost to those who engage in the industry, selling their body to a client…all while talking about artificial intelligence, what it means to be human, and what the cost is to humanity. He does it in a world that really doesn’t feel all that distant, nor too different from our own, and yet is completely alien.

Oh, and there are flying motorcycles in that world, which is pure awesome, if you ask me. Given that the aerial bikes appear in two different stories, I’m convinced that Torgersen’s ride of choice must be two-wheeled and fast.

In addition to the tales of provocative noir, Racers of the Night includes something that would probably best be classified as space horror and which I think is something new for Torgersen. It starts out as typical for Brad space exploration and before long I found myself flipping pages, thrilled and…afraid?

It’s fantastic and frightening, but mostly because of the thrill factor, not the expenditure of blood and guts. It something like a cross between Alien and Stargate with a bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in for good measure. I’d love to see it optioned by Hollywood.

Included in the collection is an unfinished novella that, again, I enjoyed, turning to the last page with some regret. In the afterword to the story, Brad admits that the space opera is unfinished and that he may return to it, and I hope he does. The story sets up plenty of ground for a whole series of books, not to mention hinting at a universe beyond the immediate conflict.

If you’re not reading Brad Torgersen yet, then stop what you’re doing, go to Amazon and buy his book today (here’s a link for you. Now go buy it). His stories just keep getting better. If you want to know what the future of science-fiction might look like, you have to read Brad Torgersen. He’s on the cutting edge.

And that’s a cliché that is right on point.

Really, though: just go buy Racers of the Night and find out why for yourself,

Racers of the Night Book Cover Racers of the Night
Brad Torgersen
WordFire Press
August 12, 2014

Flying at the Speed of Night . . . Following in the successful footsteps of his previous short fiction collection (“Lights in the Deep”) award-winning and award-nominated Science Fiction author Brad R. Torgersen is back with twelve new tales. From the edges of explored space, to the depths of the artificial soul. At once breaking the limits of human endurance, while also treading the tender landscapes of the human heart. Originally appearing in the pages of Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show magazine, Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge magazine, and elsewhere, these stories are collected here for the first time; with commentary and anecdotes from the author. Introductions by bestsellers L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Kevin J. Anderson, and Dave Wolverton (Farland.)

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.