Author: Patrick Hester
I don’t read a lot of self-published works, but I had no hesitation in reading Patrick Hester’s novella, Cahill’s Homecoming. I have enjoyed my morning commute listening to the SF Signal and Function Nerds podcasts, both of which Hester is a host. I also read his short story in the Space Battles anthology and found it a pleasure to read.
Cahill’s Homecoming, as the cover suggests, is the first book in a serial collection. The protagonist, Cord Cahill, is a space traveler and sentinel returning home because of a sudden death in the family. His sister, Katie, died of natural causes, but Cord is not buying it.
He scavenges his hometown, which bears resemblance to a wild west where firing a gun will get you in trouble with the law (2×4’s are a thug’s weapon of choice). With assistance from his ship’s AI, Mother, Cahill searches to find the meaning of his sister’s death and bring justice to the events surrounding it.
This story is a quick read and I devoured it easily in one sitting. An immediate comparison can be made to the short-lived but fan-favorite, Firefly. The novella is a science fiction-western mash-up with a classic western vigilante plot. The assistance of the ship’s AI is a cool twist, making the sci-fi element a necessary part of the story. The decision to name the AI, Mother, is an interesting one — leading me to instantly recall Norman Bates’ relationship with his dead mother in Psycho. Don’t mistake the name for an Oedipus complex, though. Mother is a mentor, guiding Cahill by giving him facts of his surroundings and even helping him to detect a sly poker mechanic.
Cahill’s Homecoming is a well-written piece about a young man seeking answers and justice for someone he loves. In order to do so, he must solicit the help of a man he both disrespects and despises. I expect that Patrick Hester will be a recognized name on bookshelves in the near future and this novella shows evidence of his writing talents.