In the frontier town of Trunkdown, Clay does his best to maintain the grip on sanity that his mother and father both lost. Clay’s young wife, Maggie, is pregnant, and on the frontier of Mars, that's a death sentence. Even for a surgeon like Clay, medication for a birth is inaccessible. Without medication, every pregnancy on Mars ends with an abomination ripping out of the mother’s body. Abandoning Clay’s surgeon practice, the two set out to the nearest city, hoping to find a solution. There are no cars, no planes. They must walk through the land, but the land is littered with danger. Rain storms attack the ground like artillery fire. Mutated beasts populate the nights. Natives—adult versions of the inhumans that burst from unmedicated wombs—attack travelers at will. The two decide the only way they can make the trip is with a guide named Abram. The bad news is that Maggie and Abram used to be lovers. The worse news is that Abram is a native himself. When each traveler is unable to let the past stay past, old resentments begin to boil among them, irrevocably pushing all three toward a shocking, violent conclusion.
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.