Welcome, one and all, to another MDM Projects book review. Today, hot on the heels of my interview with the man himself, I’m looking at Stephen Coghlan’s Gathering Storms (GENMON Vol 1).
Background: Stephen Coghlan is a Canadian author. As well as the book we’re looking at today, he has also appeared in multiple anthologies, and has another novel coming this year.
Gathering Storms is the first in a series about the GENMOS – Genetically Modified Species – as they battle for the right to rise above their origins and be viewed as living beings. Given that they were created to be governmental super soldiers, you can imagine that it’s not a straight forward process.
The Good: Gathering Storms is what I would call a quick read. While it does feature some shifts in style (in this case narrative, memories and memos), the book hurtles along at a nice pace and doesn’t fall into the trap of flooding the reader with too much to take in. Given both the themes and the size of the cast, this is a tough thing to balance, and Stephen does so well here.
The various GENMOS are also fascinating. They’re all human/animal hybrids and vary from single anime/human to dual animal/human. What makes it work particularly well is that each is blessed with certain traits that are not only specific to their base species but are easily identifiable in terms of how they could be weaponised. This is played out particularly well in the action scenes, which are themselves smoothly executed.
Thematically, Stephen touches on some good points here. The general set-up is one that is well executed, and when you see the GENMOS interacting in the familial setting, it does make you feel for them. You want them to succeed and to find their place in the world. That level of connection is important.
Yes, the set-up and cover make it clear that this is furry fiction. What was nice was that the reason for the anthro characters existing among humans made sense. It was logical, and the repercussions for those involved was well thought out, which certainly deserves some praise. Oh, and I really liked the ending. It sets up what’s still to come really well and creates a clear and intriguing antagonist moving forward.
The Bad: There’s little to dislike about the story here. I would say that I felt like I wanted to see more fleshing out for each GENMOS though. The ensemble cast is really quite large, and the result of that is that some of the characters get a little less time than others. It’s not enough to make you lose sympathy or connection, and of course, there will be more in the second book, so it’s not a major flaw at all.
Final View: Gathering Storms is a great first part to what I expect to be a really fun series. Don’t be fooled; while it is indeed furry fiction, there’s plenty here for fans of sci-fi too, be they furry or not.
Final Score: 4 / 5