You don’t have to know anything about opera to enjoy this parody. What if, you took the storyline from Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle of operas, and moved it from the Dark Ages to the future? And what if, the all powerful Ring instead became an all-powerful computer chip? And what if the fantasy creatures were aliens? You’d get Wotan’s Dilemma. It’s a retelling of the Rhinegold Myth as sci-fi, instead of fantasy with humor replacing most of the horror. Beautiful goddesses, magical gold, quantum electronics, aliens, a murderous god, great heroes: what more could a reader want?
I’m not exactly sure what I had expected when I first requested this title through NetGalley, but I was definitely surprised by Wotan’s Dilemma. I found that what I loved the most about this title was the dynamic pool of characters! Mortals, warriors, Gods, and aliens… what more could you add to make a great mythology based tale with a dash (well more like a cup) of sci-fy? How about an ancient Norse myth smashed together with alien technology! Yup that’s right, Quense dares to put things together, that in most cases should never even be close neighbors let alone share a story. Anything that I have come across even remotely similar to Wotan’s Dilemma, just either sounds terrible or lacks some seriously needed elements. Quense, however, totally makes this work somehow. There is humor in different variations, both veiled and obvious. There are inner quests for adventure, love, fame, and fortune. I will definitely be looking into Quense’s future titles.
─ Stephanie McFadden
Edition #45 – August 11, 2013
By Hank Quense
PART ONE: Das Rheingold
Fafner slithered through the door of his adopted home, an abandoned and damaged apartment building. He squatted on his eight tentacles while his
eye stalks, sitting above a cruel beak, swiveled left then right making a rapid survey of the area. He wasn’t surprised when he didn’t spot any activity, he
rarely did. Only a few mortals lived in the area. All he saw was a desolate and mostly destroyed urban street. A hundred yards away, the Rhine River
reflected the morning sun. Buds about to burst into leaves covered the few widely-scattered trees.
He faced another day with nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to steal and that took a toll on his psyche. His criminal talents moldered without any
felonious exercise. Who would have thought that he, the universe’s most successful criminal, would spend endless days without committing a crime?
His motto had always been, ‘A day without a felony is a day wasted.’ He desperately wanted something to do; anything to end the overwhelming boredom. Except honest work, of course; he had no intention of going that far, not when it would ruin his perfect record of never having worked on an honest project.
When Fafner had escaped from an Inter-Galactic Police ambush, his damaged get-away ship managed to make it as far as this benighted parallel
universe. His ultra-sophisticated craft had been shot up and mangled in the chase. Just before the ship exploded, he transported to the desolate surface
and now he was trapped. He had lived here for three solar rotations so far.
With no hope of a rescue, he had what amounted to a life sentence and his race typically lived hundreds of years unless shortened by treachery or assassination. By now, the police must have assumed he had died. As a consequence, he would no longer be the most wanted criminal in fifteen
galaxies, five of which he’d never been in. Standing seven feet tall and weighing over four hundred pounds had disadvantages on this planet because he didn’t fit through most doorways and the gravity, much heavier than on his home world Zaftan 31B, made movement difficult. The planet was so different from his cloud-covered home world: there was too much light here and it hurt his eyeballs. He ran a tentacle over his body to smooth the green-tinged slime that covered his gray-black, rubberish skin.
He moved down the rubble-strewn road to the nearest intersection and stopped to decide what to do. The deserted streets were expected because
the handful of mortals who lived here always hid when he moved about. He suspected his size and his personality — merely hostile when he was in a
good mood — scared the puny creatures…
Award-winning author Hank Quense has over a dozen books, ﬁfty short stories, and a dozen articles on ﬁction writing. He has been published by a small indie publishing house, has self-published and now has his own publishing company, Strange Worlds Publishing.
Using advance graphical software, he has developed a unique way to manage the creative process and monitor progress.
Hank lives in Bergenﬁeld, NJ with his wife Pat. They have two daughters and ﬁve grandchildren. He writes humorous fantasy and sciﬁ stories.
A member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, he refuses to write serious genre ﬁction.