short stories, poems, book reviews

Review of ‘Cull’, a novel by Stafford Ray

‘Cull’ is a sophisticated and absorbing read, a fable for our times. It’s a prescient warning to governments that fail to deal swiftly enough with two of the most urgent issues we face today.

Dropping us straight into the murky world of a shocking conspiracy, led by the US government, it hinges on a radical solution to rampaging population growth and global warming. It forces us to look at the real possibility of horrific answers if the world does not face up to these two challenges adequately.

This is a world in which morality has been largely replaced by expediency and secrecy.

Stafford is like a puppeteer, deftly controlling the spectrum of characters and the breadth of the conspiracy. The action moves back and forth from the halls of power in Washington, Canberra, Beijing and Tokyo, and a group of refugees on a boat in the Indian Ocean.

The plot is given breathe by skilful dialogue. The behind-the-scenes encounters between leaders and their staff provide, at times, entertaining repartee, but mostly a chilling recognition of the lengths they will go to for self-preservation at the expense of others. As the head of the Australian Dep’t of Sustainability says to his PM, ‘You have policy (to deal with), I only have science.’

We follow events as they unfold, through the protagonist, Harry Fromm, the US Ambassador to the UN. Harry is in the unenviable position of knowing too much and too little at the same time. How does an individual follow his conscience when he is being blackmailed to remain silent?

‘Cull’s a genuine page turner, particularly over the last 100 or so pages, and I was breathless by the end. In the current state of affairs globally, it is not much of a stretch for the events of the novel to become a reality.

‘Cull’ is available in bookshops and also online

Rosie Toth

Overview of ‘Fifteen Shards of Broken Glass’ by Phoenix L James

My name is Annie Clarke, and this is my story of courage in the face of true adversity.
Abandoned one Christmas Eve by my real father, my mother was forced to fend for herself and her two daughters. She met a man who offered to help, but help was never his intention – not after he married my mother.
He killed my family and sold me into a life of prostitution.
That’s when Detective Oliver Bradley found me, changing my life forever. He gave me self-worth as a human being, teaching me how to love and trust again.
Now, I have to fight to reclaim everything my evil stepfather took from me – starting with my little sister, Gracie-Lou. I have to make sure she doesn’t end up with the life that monster made me live.
I refuse to be a victim; I am a survivor.
This is my time for revenge…

The novel is available from Barnes and Noble and Hooked on Books, Bateman’s Bay. Links,including reviews –