Review - Priest and Pariahs by J. Alan Veerkamp

book cover

Priest & Pariahs

by J. Alan Veerkamp

My rating:

Volume 3 of Centauri Survivors Second Chance Chronicles

Tags: Science Fiction

Posted in Book Reviews on March 8, 2023

Priest is the chief pilot of the Santa Claus and rather enjoys his reputation as one of the ship's bad boys. His schemes aren't always well thought-out, and when he gets caught, he takes his punishment with good humor. Costa is a “para-human,” a genetic mutation that emerged on earth and gave those with it some extraordinary powers. Para-humans sparked fear in “normal” people. They were soon seen as less-than-human, and either enslaved or locked away in special prisons that could control their powers. Costa survived the bloody revolt that resulted and, after many years in hiding, is on his way to the Alpha Centauri cluster to fulfill a promise to his dead brother. Arbor's mother was a free-spirited artist who believed in letting nature take its course. She didn't have his dwarfism corrected before he was born. This made Arbor a significant anomaly in a future where little people were practically unknown. His life has been a struggle, and his job on the Santa Claus may be his last chance. When the three men are thrown together, it makes for some interesting encounters.

Like all of the stories in this series, “Priests and Pariahs” is more or less stand-alone. However, Priest played a somewhat pivotal role in the previous book, A Cook's Tale, so you may want to read that story before this one, to give you more background on him and his special card deck.

As in the last book, this story employs a bit of misdirection. The three men at the center of the story don't particularly like each other, or at least get off to a bad start at first. Even when things start to thaw out, it's still not obvious who will end up with whom at the end.

Priest is at the center of things. He isn't particularly attracted to Arbor at first, but when one of his pranks goes wrong, and he ends up spending time with the man, he starts to see him in a different light. On the other hand, Costa is the beautiful man everyone wants, but once he lets Priest in, it's clear Costa is a man with serious problems. It's hard not to like Priest, even if you don't think you should. He doesn't seem to have any real goal in life other than having fun.

Arbor comes across as a very authentic character. Even with the flaws that emerge, Arbor is still sympathetic, but it's a little hard to see how he and Priest can be reconciled.

Costa is perhaps the most deeply flawed of the three. His experiences on earth have left him deeply distrustful of “normal” humans. In the end, he does surprise us a little. Speaking of endings, although this is the last book published in the series, it does leave a little bit of a loose end dangling that has me hoping there might be another book some day.

“Priest & Pariahs” is available from Amazon.