Today’s special from those devilish Bandits, is Dean Lombardo’s brutal and entertaining sci-fi, Space Games!
The cameras are on and the gloves are off in this battle of the sexes in space.
Say hello to Robin and Joe—contestants in 2034’s “Space Games,” a high-stakes reality TV show from Hollywood producer Sheldon J. Zimmer set aboard next-generation space station, ISS 2. The winner takes home a multimillion-dollar jackpot and a chance at stardom, while the loser faces the ultimate in public humiliation. Only former NASA astronaut Vince, acting as the station’s commander and the games’ sole referee, can separate sexy spitfire and martial artist, Robin Miller, from her brutal opponent, “Big Joe” O’Donnell, as the pair compete inside the cramped zero-g environs. Watched by millions of people back on Earth, the reality show rapidly degenerates into a deadly spectacle.
Space Games is a compelling story and a biting satire about reality television: those who make and participate in it – and those who watch it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dean Lombardo works as a writer in the information technology industry, turning what is often techno-babble into messaging that can be understood by a general business audience. At age 11, he was psychologically scarred by the movie “Alien” and has been watching, reading and writing frightening science fiction and horror ever since. “Space Games” will be Dean’s second published novel. Dean lives in northern Virginia with his family and the world’s most beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever, Trixie.
AN EXCERPT FROM SPACE GAMES—
In the video, a woman jogged down a palmetto-lined street. As she neared the camera’s lens, the recorder refocused, compensating for her approach, framing her from the waist up. She sprang past, moving off-camera from right to left.
A new perspective: The cameraman had caught up and he was in front of her now, backpedaling. The picture on the monitor shook and became unwatchable until the woman slowed and began to run in place.
“My name is Robin Miller. I’m twenty-six and I’m the softball coach for the University of Cal-Irvine.”
“I knew it,” said Sheldon Zimmer as he and his assistant watched the TV monitor inside Zimmer’s Los Angeles home. “California girl. History of softball. Gotta be one of those . . . you know.”
“Not exactly,” Morty answered. “Listen to what she says.”
The woman on the screen was undoubtedly attractive. Though her halter-top and hair were darkened with sweat, and the sheen of perspiration covered her face and limbs, she had a pureness about her. Maybe it was the way her ponytail bounced behind her as she ran, or the clusters of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Or maybe it was the slender physicality, her overheated panting as she continued to jog in place.
“I want to be on the TV show ‘Space Games’ because I’ve always been . . . I don’t know . . . daring . . . competitive. My girls at UC-Irvine won the College World Series last season and instead of going to Disneyworld, I’m going into space to kick some guy’s ass.”
“That seals it,” said Zimmer, the show’s director and executive producer. “She definitely is one. Hot, though.”
“Uh-huh.” Morty pointed toward the screen. “We’re almost to the part about her parents.”
In the next cut, the woman punched a sparring bag, her gloved fists denting the vinyl surface. She followed by snapping a series of violent roundhouse kicks.
“I like to stay active.” Kick, punch, punch, punch, backfist. “I do triathlon training in the offseason.”
Another roundhouse kick, just a blur.
“Shit,” Zimmer said, pinching his lip.
“I know,” Morty replied. “Very athletic, energetic. That’s one thing to her advantage, especially in space.”
“No—I mean angry. Reminds me of Kat Turner, remember her, Morty? With the right guy we could have a ‘War of the Roses’ in outer space.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, Shel. It’s a reality show, not an old-style black comedy. Tragic endings aren’t what we want, and our two contestants are going to have their hands full already, dealing with all the physical, mental and emotional strains of—”
“I know,” the director said, cutting Morty off. “But without some conflict . . . ”
“Too much conflict isn’t good, either,” Morty said. “Shel, I vote against this candidate. I didn’t even want to show you her tape. She doesn’t fit the profile provided by the NASA consultants. For legal reasons, I’d—”
“Fuck the NASA consultants! What do they know about television?”
Now the young woman was relaxing on a couch. She stretched forward to paint a toenail.
Morty gestured toward the screen. “Here it is. Check out this part.”
“My parents trained together at NASA. My mom’s from California, Dad’s from Des Moines. They met during training, and then fell in love during their joint mission aboard the International Space Station.”
“Why is she telling us this?” Zimmer complained. “Why do I care about this shit?”
The woman flexed her toes, leaning forward to inspect the drying polish. Then she looked up into the camera and smiled. “My mom used to tell me I was conceived up there.” She pointed to the sky. “Aboard the space station . . . the first ISS.”
Zimmer blinked. Then he glanced at Morty. “What’s her name again?”
REVIEW BY BRIAN BANDELL
New York Journal of Books
Like any good reality show, Space Games leaves us wondering what the contestants would do next and how they could possibly top the last bone-breaking outburst of brutality. The ending goes to a pretty dark place—the worst nightmare for any TV producer, except Zimmer. Reading Space Games is kind of like watching a cage fight. Yeah, it’s violent. Yeah, someone could wind up unconscious or in the hospital. But what a rush!
REVIEW BY CRASH FROELICH,
Author of “Never,” Artema Press
Pick up “Space Games” and you will become addicted. “Space Games” is the title of a one-on-one competition, a reality television program set within the confines of a space station in Earth orbit. In it, a man and woman battle for a multi-million dollar prize in a best-of-seven tournament. A series of no-holds-barred matches that not only test the limits of physical prowess, but also the sportsmanship, even the very humanity, of the contestants. An amoral sociopath, twisted by her violent past, versus a misogynist with nothing but contempt for her gender. The chemistry is potent and the bad blood of the combatants is exacerbated, encouraged by the greed of the show’s producer and the impotence of his staff. The effect on the viewing audience is only second to the horror that results from the collapse of civilized barriers in the minds and deeds of the players. You won’t be able to look away. You’ll never be able to think of reality television in the same way.
REVIEW BY MARY FAN,
Author of ‘Artificial Absolutes’, Red Adept Publishing.
A sleekly modern rendition of pulp sci-fi, Space Games is fast-paced, straightforward read that leaves you wanting to know what happens next. This book is easy to fly through, full of excitement and action. The realistic dialogue, tight writing, and quick action all make for great entertainment. The characters and action in Space Games, which is written almost cinematically, pop from the page. It’s easy to “see” what’s going on and “hear” the characters’ distinctive voices. The pacing is spot-on, creating an exciting reading experience that snowballs into a tense pageturner as an ill-conceived reality show goes to hell. Space Games isn’t for the faint of heart, and Lombardo, who is also known as a horror writer, isn’t afraid to take risks. I think that’s one of the book’s strengths: it fiercely barrels through the events in a merciless, unapologetic fashion.
REVIEW BY JAMES LISTON, KANSAS
I’ve often wondered what reality TV would be like in the future. Will everyone eventually get bored of it and quit watching when they run out of ideas? According to this story, that won’t happen. Space Games is a reality show to beat all reality shows. Set in the year 2034 aboard a space station, two contestants choose from a list of events to compete in. It’s the battle-of-the-sexes with very few rules. Joe and Robin fight their way to a multimillion-dollar prize while being watched by millions of viewers on Earth.
I thought this was a great concept for a story and was pleased that it was entertaining, and well written. The characters are well developed and the author goes to great lengths to make it seem real, and allows your imagination to fill in the blanks. Like when Robin sneaks into Joe’s bathroom and closes the door so the cameras can’t see what she does. Great fun! I highly recommend it! View the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiiTsk7mLrI
MY OWN REVIEW
Space Games lives up to the hype. It is a brutal free for all, a fast paced, violent and yet a satirical look at human nature and the nature of reality television gone too far. The two main protagonists, feisty Robin and tough Joe, go head to head in an ultimate battle of the sexes show, which quickly descends into chaos. Morality blurs and hard hitting questions start being asked: how far should one go for television? For fame/infamy? Money? To prove a point?
The funny thing is, Robin and Joe don’t really ask these questions. They’re more interested is getting one up on each other. But as a reader, you do. The MC’s aren’t the most loveable characters, redeeming qualities are thin on the ground, but that, I think, might be part of the fun of Space Games. It’s keeps you wondering what God-awful thing they are going to do to each other next… And the ballsy ending – it is as brutal in its ending as it is in its beginning. Very well written, entertaining, and asks a few uncomfortable questions about our sometimes voyeuristic natures. Thoroughly enjoyed it!