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Ghosts of Punktown Paperback – 15 Dec 2013

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Regions Press, LLC (15 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626410127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626410121
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,581,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jeffrey Thomas is the author of such novels as Deadstock, Blue War, Letters from Hades, and The Fall of Hades, and such short story collections as Punktown, Nocturnal Emissions, Thirteen Specimens, and Unholy Dimensions. His stories have appeared in the anthologies The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Year’s Best Horror Stories, Leviathan 3, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Forthcoming from Miskatonic River Press is a role-playing game based upon Thomas’ universe of Punktown. Thomas is also an artist, and lives in Massachusetts.

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Format: Paperback
Great collection of stories set in a far off yet familiar place. Some unexpected gems in here.

Reminds me of Roald Dahl - Tales of the Unexpected, dark tales set in a futuristic world.

Very enjoyable!
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Format: Kindle Edition
A good compilation of stories set in the futuristic , debauched city of Paxton/Punktown.

Although all linked with the theme of 'ghosts', the stories cover a lot of bases. Highlights for me were a disturbing tale of pornography, paedophilia and exploitation; and the final story exploring the relationship between a cyborg and a soon-to-be retired assassin-for-hire.

Recommended - I'll definitely be taking a look at Thomas' other Punktown works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x944970a8) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9473f3e4) out of 5 stars You should be reading this, if you love well crafted fiction of any genre... 30 April 2014
By Shawn M. Vogt - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I've been reading some really great stories lately, and the trend definitely continues with Ghosts of Punktown by Jeffrey Thomas. I've been aware of this long-running series, but for some reason never got around to reading it. Needless to say, I'm now kicking myself, and will be catching up with what I've missed, post-haste. Once I started reading Ghosts, I really didn't want to put it down. Unfortunately, I have to sleep, and work, so I didn't finish it in one sitting like I wanted to. The stories are all powerful, and beautifully crafted, and the characters engaging. A really excellent collection, with both newly published stories, and some that have been reworked for this release. One note, before I start the review. I love the intro by Jeffrey, and highly recommend you read it. It gives insight into Punktown and the characters roaming the city. That said, I skipped past it, and came back to it after I had finished the rest of the collection. The reason for this as that I wanted to have a cold reading of the stories, and then see if my thoughts and feelings about the stories matched what the author was going for. That's just me though... as I said, I really enjoyed the intro, so read through it however you like. Well, on with the review. I'll be focusing on my three favorite stories from the collection, and touch more briefly on the others towards the end of my review.

Welcome to Punktown, a sprawling megalopolis built upon the alien planet of Oasis. It's both famous for the large amount of alien and inter-dimensional beings that live side by side, and infamous for the extreme amount of crime that goes on within its boundaries. Newcomers are definitely in for a wild ride, one that might end up being their last. First off, we have 'In His Sights', which features Jeremy Stake, who should be familiar to returning readers of the Punktown series. He is the protagonist of both Deadstock and Blue War, and this story is set ten years before those tales. Stack's a mutant, with a power to replicate another being's appearance; this serves him well during the inter-dimensional conflict known as the Blue War. He's basically used as an advanced scout and infiltration specialist, as he can mimic the appearance of the enemy Ha Jiin. The story starts as he is in the process of demobbing, and being worked back into normal routine. There's a monkey wrench in the proceedings, however; Stake's features have frozen in the likeness of the last person he killed, an unnamed Ha Jiin warrior, so fitting in with society is going to be a bit of a challenge (read as almost nonexistent). Enter Cal Williams, another recent returnee from the far regions where the Blue War took place. Cal's even more damaged than Stake, and can't seem to leave the war behind... he's turning into quite the serial killer, and hates the Ha Jiin. Unfortunately for Stake, this places him in Cal's sights, which Stake is blithely unaware of through most of the proceedings, being caught up with his own tragedies. The pay off between these two haunted vets is decidedly action packed, and also poignant, in the last moments. Both of these men have been damaged by their experiences in a very realistic, human way, that is rendered beautifully by the author, and the ghosts they carry inside drive them down very different paths. Despite being a short story, this has joined three of my favorite novels that deal with the horrors of war, both the immediate effects on the men who suffer through them, and the long term consequences; Armor by John Steakley, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, and Sympathy for the Devil by Kent Anderson. I mean this to be, and hope the author takes it, as the highest compliment. A taut opening story, sharp as a razor, with genuine realism and true feeling throughout. An excellent start.

The second of my favorites (and also the second story presented in Ghosts) is 'Relics'. We are introduced to Cynth, an 8 year old girl living in one tower of the Triplex installation in Punktown. As her parents are usually caught up with their own affairs, she is largely raised by her best friend, Mr. Moon. Mr. Moon is the Triplex's central computer, who handles all of his tenants wants and needs. Through the repeated interactions between the two, Mr. Moon starts to develop more sentient tendencies, showing signs of becoming a true AI... Of course, all of this is lost on young Cynth. Fast forward 20 years, and adult Cynth has built a life for herself, and is standing on her own two feet. She still thinks about her friend, on occasion, but has her own affairs to occupy her time. Having broke off her engagement with her fiancee, she is back in Punktown on business (her family had left Punktown for the city of Miniosis when she was 10). Working as a service representative for an auction company, she relishes the chance to get away from Miniosis, which reminds her utterly of her failed relationship. While engaged in the latest auction, odd things begin happening, culminating in the prize piece up for bid being stolen. Further investigation leads her back to the heart of the Triplex, where possibly an old friend is waiting... I'll say this, each of the author's stories presented here have a soul, and are emotionally powerful. With 'Relics' the sense of loss and sadness come through palpably. Mr. Moon is a ghost in the machine, but Cynthia has haunted the ghost... and vice versa. The first two stories presented were worth picking up this collection, all on their own. I wasn't sure how Jeffrey would top them, until I got to...

'Life Work', and the intertwined stories of Hanako and Huck. This entry is a bit longer, being novella length, and closes out the collection. Hanako is a rogue artificial being, created for pleasure, who has escaped, and up-graded herself. Living a fairly ordinary life that is centered on her own comfort and security, by chance she meets an older woman named Sabina, who has a true rapport with plants, and a genuine humanity... An act of kindness Hanako closer to Sabina, and starts to break her out of her never-ending search for personal comfort and security. Hanako begins to change, to take that next step towards... something different, and familiar. She is already different from her kind, for who else would have escaped from her situation, gone rogue, and learned to hide herself in the general population? Who knows where this will lead lovely Hanako... The second protagonist on this shared journey is Huck (also known as Mad-Dog Huck). Star triggerman for the Neptune Teeb crime syndicate. A dyed-in-the-wool killer, when we come across Huck, he is in the middle of staking out the Paxton Center Casino. For what reason, you might ask? To take out one of his bosses main rivals, of course. Things are soon completed, but not in his usual manner. Although the gusto is there, the precision is lacking, and he comes away from the job having also killed someone that was off limits. Not being stupid enough to try to gun down their best hitter, the Teeb syndicate (both politely, and a bit nervously) asks Huck to retire. At loose ends, and bereft of the one job he was a master at, Huck is cast adrift. A chance meeting with Hanako, who he seems to recognize (at least by type), signals the beginning of the end. The two are now linked, and the rest of the story is equally linked. Who is better, one might ask? An automaton, supposedly without a soul, who is slowly becoming a complete being, after years of serving only herself? Or, a mad-dog killer, dehumanized to the point that he has no soul, only taking satisfaction in his mastery of death? Could they possibly join together to do something that rises above what they are separately, and accomplishes something that absolutely needs to be done (in my opinion at least)? They can, and will, with a little help from the good old ultra-violence. The set up and follow through of this novella is mighty, and I read through it in one sitting. The end game had me on edge. I knew what I wanted to happen, feared what might happen, and was rewarded with a bit of both. As I said, mighty! Both characters are haunted in their own way. Hanako by what she was, what she is, and what she is becoming... Huck by the fear that he's losing his edge, and that he no longer has a purpose, no matter how dark. Are these likable, feel-good characters? No, but they are mesmerizing, believable, and well written. This is an excellent ending, to an amazing release. Personally, I will be visiting Punktown many times in the future, thanks to this release. I recommend that you should make the journey as well...

In closing, I'd like to state that while these are my personal favorites, you really can't go wrong with any of the stories contained within Ghosts of Punktown. I would have loved to break each story down, piece by piece, but I was also working to post this review before its release date ( and zounds, I barely made it). There's a bit of everything in here, and I'm sure you can find something that latches on to your psyche. For me, it was everything involved. From 'The Room', which tells of a love carried on through the years, and across dimensions, and of an ever-waning hope, that the protagonist will never give up; to 'Imp' which is so disturbing in its victim's plight, and of the lack of anything that can be done to save her, since she is (as much as you can be in this technological setting) a true GHOST, and we are all relegated to the role of witness. Jeffrey's writing defies genre, in that you could sweep away the science fiction (and other) trappings, and with minor (and sometimes no) alterations, still have the same tale staring back at you. The bedrock that these tales are built upon are not only familiar, but timeless. Highly recommended, and with that, I'm signing off. A most enthusiastic happy reading to you all!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94cc7468) out of 5 stars First trip to Punktown 4.5 star rating 29 April 2014
By Zach @ The Mouths Of Madness Podcast - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
The city of Paxton, on the planet of Oasis, is our location. Built by Earth colonists over an indigenous species' small town. Inhabited by all forms of life; human, humanoid, alien, self aware android and others, it had degraded quickly into a perpetual seedy underbelly now and forever to be known as Punktown. And it seems that, with Punktown, the skeletal foundation is science-fiction, but the soul is horror. War, revenge, loss, longing, betrayal, lust, guilt, excess and hate are the forces at play here, the ghosts that haunt us all.

"Ghosts of Punktown" is a collection of eight short stories and one novella all taking place within the city limits of Punktown, the setting for numerous Jeffrey Thomas books (five novels and four other shorts collections authored and co-authored, I believe).
The collection is well written and immediately immersive and captivating with the great mix of sci-fi concepts and horrific uneasiness. The town (a character in its own right), dark even on the brightest of days, is flooded with interesting life forms and they all seem to hurting, haunted in some form or fashion. Almost like they are feeding the darkness of Punktown.
While this is my first visit to the series, Thomas does a great job of quickly getting me up to speed and familiarizing me with the locales and denizens. Included is a handy guide to Punktown restaurants and eateries. A nice touch for the new tourist.

If I ever find myself walking these streets it'll be quickly, in passing and with my hands in my pockets, my head down.

*I received a promotional copy in exchange for an honest review and this is an honest review. I loved this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x944aedf8) out of 5 stars Sci-Fi horror at it's finest 30 April 2014
By Frank Errington - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Review copy

Punktown has been very good to author, Jeffrey Thomas, with five novels and three other collections of shorts, all set in the Punktown universe.

For the uninitiated, Punktown is "a city on the planet Oasis, built by colonists from Earth upon a small town belonging to the indigenous people, the Choom. Punktown, famous for it's mix of races from other worlds, even other dimensions--and infamous for it's high level of crime."

Even though this was my first visit to Punktown, I quickly found myself totally immersed in the amazing world Jeffrey Thomas has created and his skillful prose makes the experience completely enjoyable. "These days she was only too aware of what went on in the streets that wound like streams through gorges of towering stone."

The stories in the collection were quite diverse and brilliantly imagined. I was particularly intrigued by "Disfigured," where, in a world where everyone can be perfect, it becomes common practice to have cosmetic surgery to add deformities.

Ghosts of Punktown is available, from Dark Regions press, in lettered and limited edition formats and though for the Kindle. Plus, if you're an Amazon Prime member you can borrow it for FREE through the Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Highly recommended and an excellent introduction to the world of Punktown.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x945ecb28) out of 5 stars Doesn't get any better than THIS! 29 April 2014
By pvlimbaugh - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Reading a book by Jeffrey Thomas is akin to reading books of poetry, there's something, about the way the words fall into place and create this beautiful telling. Ghosts of Punktown published by [...] is no exception, there's a musicality weaving through the city, taking us from one story to the next uninterrupted.

For those of you unfamiliar with Punktown, it is located on the planet Oasis and built by Earth colonists. The Choom and several other species, some human, some not, along with the colonists make up the inhabitants of this violent crime-filled city. Think, Arkham City or Brick Mansions, a dark disturbing habitat.

Before continuing on to Punktown please do read the Introduction. Here you will be taken on a gastronomical tour stopping by all those little gems that can only be found if one knows his city.

'In His Sights' is the first stop in Punktown; the horrors of war are never over for those who have fought. Jeremy Stake a mutant has returned home, but wears a mask to hide what he's become. Cal Williams another returned vet is still haunted by the enemy's face. A chance encounter is all it takes for Cal to be back in the zone, hunting the ghosts of his past.

As we leave the zone behind we step into 'Relics' where eight year old Cynth resides with her parents and Mr. Moon. Mr. Moon is the very essence of her building, the motherboard if you will. This is a sad tale of letting go the past and freeing one's self to the future.

'A Semblance of Life' is a dark story of the past colliding with the present.

Ghosts take on so many forms, of past, of what was, what should have been and what is. Ghosts abound in 'Bitter Brains'.

'Disfigured', where else but Punktown will you find a soft porn magazine by such a name. In a world where the medical field can correct any imperfection, people have become boring. The need to be different, to stand out will always remain and if it takes disfiguring one's self surgically, then so be it. This story reminds me of Rod Serling's Eye of the Beholder. Who are we to judge beauty?

'Imps' show us how an image can haunt forever. You can relive it over and over but you can't change it once it's imprinted.

As we delve deeper into Punktown the scenery becomes grittier, the stories rawer. In 'The Room' we meet Quick Billy once an up and coming crime runner, he is now next in line as crime boss. Surrounded by servants and security, he can pretty much have whatever he wants, but all he wants is Candy.

Imagine if you will, living in the memories of your dead lover. 'Into My Arms" not just remembering but actually feeling, breathing, being those thoughts. That's what Swift does when he infuses himself with the nanomites of his deceased lover Talene.

Finally we reach Subtown, the underbelly of Punktown which is a world unto its own. It is here in 'Life Work' that we are introduced to the Japanese expression `rice work.'
"In the culture of your ancestors, the work that puts food on the table is your `rice work.' As opposed to your `life work,' which is the work you truly love."
Hanako, a pretty girl is an android who lives in the same building as Huck, a hired triggerman for the Neptune Teeb Syndy. While looking out his window one day he spots some gang members playing with body parts. Something inside him snaps and he decides it is time to do his life work.

Ghosts are a part of lives, whether we accept them or not is moot, they're here. Jeffrey Thomas opens our eyes to these encounters and lets us deal with them as we may. If you are a fan of his work, you will not be disappointed. If you have never read a Jeffrey Thomas book before, you will not be disappointed. Buy the book!! Oh, I should add as a bonus if you pick up a hard copy you will be getting an amazing cover featuring the work of Kris Kuksi!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x943093e4) out of 5 stars A great collection of shorts 29 April 2014
By Bill - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I am relatively new to Jeffrey Thomas’s world of Punktown and I am diggin’ it. The best thing about it is that there are a few that I already have and can catch up on. I like it when that happens.

This collection of nine stories is a strange trip thru the world Punktown. Sometimes horrifying, sometimes grotesque and violent, but always engaging with some extremely odd and colorful characters, just like Punktown itself.

I often struggle with short story collections, but not so with Ghosts of Punktown. A great collection of SF/Horror shorts that was able to grab and hold my interest throughout.
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