Posts Tagged ‘Gareth L Powell’

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.

The Last Reef

August 31, 2012 - 5:24 pm No Comments

The Last Reef
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Anarchy Books
Page count/Size: 355KB/182 pp
Release date: 1st April 2012
Reviewer: Ken Norman

I have a confession to make: I think I may have turned into something of a luddite. Despite (or possibly because of) working in I.T., I’ve spent the last decade eschewing the latest phones and whatnot for a more old-fashioned experience. As a result, this is the first time I have read a book in any format other than physical paper. I was expecting it to be a somehow disjointed experience, devoid of the comfort and tactile feedback that a weighty tome produces. The shameful act of reading the book on a tablet was forced upon me and filled me full of foreboding… but in the end I kind of enjoyed it.

The Last Reef is a collection of stories, most of which are centred around a theme of technology nightmares. When and how a computer might be capable of going sentient (and what it would do if it did) is a premise of some of the stories here, but not in the way you might think. These tales are more involved with what happens to the unfortunate humans that get in the midst of the technological dystopia. This allows the author to explore the consequences of bad tech without getting too bogged down in the mechanics of how this might happen and without getting involved in explaining the science in too much detail. There are a few stand-out stories in here, ones that really made me forget the physical format of the book and live in the narrative. Some of the stories didn’t quite seem to inhabit the same universe as the rest of the book and felt like extras; they aren’t bad in any way, but I really wanted the entire collection to be linked together.

This book is worth reading for the one page horror story “The Long Walk Aft” alone and for the fun in stitching the threads of the related stories together as the collection becomes something whole. The prospect of a computer near me becoming self-aware and disappearing up its own parallel port is something I’m waiting for with baited breath. Any minute now…

Review – The Recollection – Future SF

November 10, 2011 - 12:17 am No Comments

The Recollection
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page count: 307pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Ed Rico lives his life running from “just one disaster to another”, so when artist Ed’s brother Verne Rico disappears into a bizarre gateway known as the ‘Arch’ on a London escalator, Ed and Verne’s wife Alice go through the next available Arch on a quest through planets and time frames to find Verne.

On another planet in another time, Katherine Abdulov is Captain of the small ship Ameline. Estranged from her wealthy parents and her ex Victor Luciano, Abdulov is at the end of her tether and broke, so accepts a commission to ferry an Acolyte and a scientist to her home planet Strauli then on to the mysterious ‘Ark’ on the planet Doh.
These lives will soon become intertwined as they progress on their personal journeys as the arches randomly appear throughout the universe.

Whilst time travel and alternate worlds are familiar SF tropes, Powell creates something new and exciting through the use of the arches which span time and planets. His writing is enjoyable and exciting, which adds a modern edge to these tropes, as does the use of news bursts inserted between sections summarising events across each world to avoid info dumping. As Kat Abdulov plays tourist guide to passenger Drake, we also have another clever technique for world exposition that further and deftly avoids the Dan Brown school of scene setting!

The scale and shape of Powell’s universe is astounding, the story is an enjoyable romp and the characters are lively and fully fledged believable people. Gareth L Powell is a name to watch in the future of SF.

If you like the look of this check it out at The Recollection.