What would happen if THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME was set in the future, on an alien planet? What if instead of one person set loose in the wilderness, it was a team of competing extreme athletes?
That’s the simple premise behind the latest from Tom G.H. Adams, the aptly named COFFIN DODGERS. A group of extreme athletes and thrillseekers, here designated T-types, are sent to a newly discovered world, there to compete for a fat cash prize.
Soon, however, they discover that they are competing for more than money as they are being hunted and killed in a sadistic hunt. As I’ve come to expect from Tom, he leans way in on the horror, sometimes seeming to bring the gore for gore’s sake, but never ignoring the impact it has on his characters. While I do feel the motivation for his villain(s) is a bit over the top, I can appreciate how he worked the interplay of sex and violence into his text. He does an excellent job of getting into some of the characters heads, and I will say for villain of the piece, that was an insight I did not rightly relish.
Tom does an excellent job of setting up the tension between the hunters and the prey, and while there are elements of the chase I wish he would have explored more (how were the hunters tracking the other contestants? why didn’t the contestants realize something was fishy about the “contest” sooner?)
The novella did fall a little short for me in places. Given how it is set in the future, I would have appreciated a more diverse group of characters. All of them come from Earth, with no real delving into how a Mars colonist might compete. Some ethnic stereotypes are given broad strokes as well (the Australian pilot being the most glaring example). The planet as well, while interesting, relied heavily on it being an Earth analogue, albeit one still going through its own prehistoric development… complete with creatures that looked an awful like what you might find in Jurassic Park. I would have appreciated creatures perhaps a bit more alien, or at least flora that was less benign than what our contestants encountered here.
Overall, for a quick read, it is very enjoyable. 3 and a half stars.
You can pick up your own copy here on Amazon, and you can check out Tom’s website here.The book is releasing Feb 2nd.