What I love most about the Genrenauts series is the elasticity the central premise allows for each subsequent entry. If you're not familiar with Michael R. Underwood's latest series, Genrenauts is a literary-focused spin on Quantum Leap with a side of Star Trek. Earth Prime - our Earth - is the center of a multiverse where any number of story genres exist. The Genrenauts, led by Angstrom King, travel from one story world to the next, setting right whatever has gone wrong.
So far, his team has helped fix a broken story in the Western world, and another in the Science Fiction realm. Now, Underwood turns his attention, ever so briefly, to the post-apocalyptic wasteland that movie buffs are sure to recognize in this Tor.com Original short story, There Will Always Be a Max.
Angstrom King rides solo through a desert wasteland, one so desperate for a lone, renegade hero in a region that "ached for stories like it ached for water." King has taken on the identity of Max, a weary traveler with a souped up car, a shotgun, and a worn leather jacket. His mission is to help a small group of weary travelers make it across the stretch of irradiated land and get a water filtration unit back to their people. That is, if they can survive being chased and attacked by the gang of marauders known as the Skull Boys.
Yep - this is a Genrenauts story that is full-on Mad Max, and boy is it a fun one. It's a quick read, and while Underwood plays with some familiar tropes and a bit of in-world literary analysis, this is basically a twenty-page chase scene actioneer. As far as the story goes, it's a one-and-done, short and sweet, but I'm hopeful that the Genrenauts, either as the usual team defined in the previous two novellas, or on another solo mission, find themselves in another post-apocalypse landscape soon.
If you haven't read any of the prior Genrenauts exploits, no worries - you can start off here just as easily as with Episode One, The Shootout Solution.
Michael R. Underwood is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Genrenauts Season One Omnibus. If you've read these books, or my past reviews have sparked your interest enough, please check out his fundraiser and, if possible, chip in. For only $10 you can get the entire Season One collection in your choice of digital format - as released by Tor, each individual episode has been $2.99. As a collection of six novella-length episodes, you're saving about half by becoming a backer. (And yes, I am a backer.) Or you can get the book in print, as well, for a little extra. Money well spent, I think.