This Monkey Kicks Ass

March 11, 2014 - 9:24 pm No Comments

Ack Ack Macaque
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page size: 340pp
Release Date: 25th Dec 2012

“What are you gonna do?”
“Same as I always do, blow shit up and hurt people.”
Meet Ack Ack Macaque, a wise cracking, cigar chomping, gun toting monkey, fighting the Germans in his spitfire and downing daiquiris in the soldiers mess when he has time for respite.
The thing is, Ack, let’s call him that for short, isn’t real. At least players of the Ack Ack Macaque cyber game in 2059 believe so. That is until Prince Merovech is cajoled into breaking into his mothers company Celeste Group intent on freeing a sentient AI until they find the actual live monkey hooked up to wires and plugged into the game. Fleeing from the complex, Merovech and girlfriend Julie are on the run. With the monkey on a mission to find out who’s been messing with their brains. Their as in, yes, plural, because the monkey isn’t the only victim of abuse from the Celeste Group; the doctors have also been messing around with the Princes brains since before birth and they’ve also been messing with
Victoria Valois, an intrepid reporter who was saved a year ago by the technicians at the complex installing gel ware into her head. They’ve also murdered her husband Paul, or so he tells her from the implant in her head as they work together to find out what is behind a series of murders taking place across the world, where the victims soul catcher has been removed.
The cult of the Undying are deliberately trying to provoke war with China. Soul catchers enable the personality on the deceased to be downloaded into a new body or machinery. Threat of nuclear war.
Included in this book is the original 2007 short story that introduced Ack to readers of Interzone. And this book is worth every penny for that story alone.
Bursting with vibrant, lively characters, a profound backstory involving a future culture revealed through snippets of newscasts and a deliciously sarcastic lead character, this novel is a sumptuous read. Full of adventure, battles, romance, betrayal and mind boggling SF concepts, this novel breaks down boundaries in the genre and is an amazing romp. I fell in love with Ack Ack Macaque and if he wasn’t a, er, monkey, I’d want to marry him! I can’t wait to read the next installment Hive Monkey, and let you know what I think. Sheer brilliance.

Hive Monkey
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page size: 340pp
Release Date: 23rd Dec 2013

Following on from Ack Ack Macaques earlier adventures, the monkey of mayhem returns in the sequel Hive Monkey. Ack is busy working on the Tereshkova for Victoria Valois, with his engineer K8 and being interviewed by all manner of journalists whilst regularly chomping cigars and drinking himself into a stupor. But things don’t stay relaxed for long. Reluctantly Victoria agrees to give a job on the airship to novelist William Cole who believes someone is out to kill him. Victoria isn’t convinced until Coles doppelgänger from a parallel world turns up on board the ship and dies within minutes. Ack also has to deal with a visit from the Gestalt; part religion, they use wireless technology to link it’s members soul catchers to a networked web, sharing thoughts and identities. And they want Ack to join their party and meet their hive leader. They promise him he will never be alone (shudder). Valois is still physically and mentally scarred following the surgery and her implants but at least she has company, even if it’s a talking monkey and a hologram of her dead ex husband. But at least one she has a murder investigation to keep her occupied. Written with same burst of energy and verve, Hive Monkey treads new territory but the monkey is still the same fun loving, foul mouthed self. This Anglo French world that Powell has created is intriguing with boulangeries, bars, patisseries and rickshaws, all adding to the sense of otherness or otherworldliness that pervades the novel. My favourite line? Ack spouting truths about SF Writer Cole “Remember, he writes Science Fiction. Those guys are all nuts. They’ve all got a screw loose somewhere.” And if Hive Monkey is anything to go by, Powell is right.

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