Reading the north

Polar City Red, by Jim Laughter
The night Orion Fell, by Abigail B. Calkin

Polar City Red

By Jim Laughter (Deadly Niche Press, $12.95)

The blurb: This novel, set in Alaska in the year 2075, imagines a world in the midst of "climate chaos," with millions of refugees trekking northward.

Excerpt: "The explosion ripped through the evening darkness and jarred the sleeping citizens of Polar City Red awake. Thunderous echoes of sound reverberated off the steep walls of granite protecting the city. The destruction caused by the M-72 LAWS (Light Anti-Armor Weapons System) rocket hitting a supply storage bunker sent an acrid cloud of smoke drifting through the city. Shards of sharp rock and metal flew through the air, smashing against any unfortunate structure near the point of impact. "Several rocks hit the Climatron, cracking one of the reinforced panes of glass.

"Shouts of fear rose into the night as lights from candles and lanterns peeked out from shrouded and shuttered windows. Mothers pulled their children close to them and tried to calm their fears. Men carrying an odd assortment of weapons spilled from caves, lean-to houses, underground bunkers, and geodesic domes. Other men in makeshift military uniforms armed with M-16 rifles and other weapons from long ago wars converged on the point of attack. It was still too dark to see the smoke, but the flames caused by the incendiary rocket lit up a secluded section of dried brush on the hillside."

The Night Orion Fell

By Abigail B. Calkin (Abigail Calkin, $18.95)

The blurb: The Alaska author recounts the story of Larry Hills. In 1982, the commercial fishing captain attempted to rescue a deckhand and became ensnared in the trawl lines for 40 hours before being rescued by the Coast Guard.

Excerpt: "The lines had now whipped and wrapped the two men against the reel like captured fish. Only the wind and Dick heard Larry's cold words:

"'We're dead.'

"As soon as his feet left the deck, Larry thought this thing's gonna grind us up. He visioned himself and Dick as mush. Innards out in the air. Two lives mulched into the beyond.

"One cross of the line against his torso would break and crush his bones as easily as it had just done Dick's. The wings and body of the net ground over the gunwale and across the deck toward the reel. Within a minute or two, its slow, steady, unstoppable pace would pull tons of fish on board. In moments, the weight and webbing of the net would bring to bear the final pressure needed to kill Larry and Dick."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News