Stranded doesn’t rely on sprawling colloquialism but instead uses precise, punctuated sentences perfect for the brass tacks demeanor of the characters. It tells the story of an alien invasion that takes place in a small logging community in Alaska. After a massive saucer crashes into the mountain, the men from the logging camp stand their ground with the military in an abandoned airport where they make contact with the Pilots, three aliens who show remorse for unleashing unimaginable horrors onto their planet.
Vitka’s creatures are all deadly tactical abominations bio-engineered to conquer. “He watches one of the Spiders get hacked apart inside a clear egg. Its nine ‘natural’ arachnid legs sheared off by lasers. A robotic arm dangles nine muscly tentacles. They’re wet. Glistening. Other arms place them around its body. The laser returns and grafts into the pads of the tentacles. A large needle slides out from the egg wall. It punctures the pseudopods. The seven eyes in its head rotate. It examines itself. Screams. Mad. Insane.” These are the Pilot’s specialized weapons meant for another war, never intended to see humanity. They employ tactics even the US military never could have prepared for, but it’s up to the men and a highly trained team of Huskies to hold their ground and keep the invasion from spreading. During their effort they are overrun, war torn, and forced to make a number of hard sacrifices. “To the halls of heroes. Through the walls of hell. We ride on and on. For those who fell.” one of the Pilots lamented. It is a fitting sentiment for anyone ransacked by the battle that day.
Vitka’s invasion is smart, showing a well rounded spectrum of perspectives from alien and human alike. His noble characters face an overwhelming challenge against the broken bloodthirsty invaders as well as some tough on the spot ambassadorial decisions. He tells the story with an affinity for diplomacy and development reminiscent of Heinlein’s classic science fiction. If you’re in the mood for an intelligent gore-tastic survival novel he may have what you’re looking for.