Photography by Andrew Mccoll; Cover design by Pat Naoum
When we last left Sophia, unfriendlies came to visit.
She deposited her empty glass beside Aviary’s phone on the coffee table. The phone flashed.
Stingball grenades hit the floor. Everyone dropped their drinks and scattered. The grenades detonated, deafeningly loud, blasting the nearby windows into pieces.
Everything around Sophia turned white.
Enclave begins with Hal’s point of view of the attack. He is not, at all, happy with Sophia and her people and is set on destroying them. Except things aren’t really going his way lately. His one goal in life is to capture Sophia alive and kill the rest of the members of her crew.
There are some seriously messed up people in Farrugia’s world and many of them hide behind the cover Purity. Purity is anti-genetic tinkering (except the kind they approve of) and as with many ideologies most of the grunts in Purity want to believe its propaganda while the higher-ups are in it for other reasons. Once propaganda gets a hold it is difficult to fight and keep from spreading. Lithuania’s border guards have started testing people for genetic tinkering making it too dangerous for people with specific genetic tags.
Sophia needs a new safe-house and Olesya brings Sophia and her crew with her back to the enclave in Kaliningrad in Russia. When she gets there she finds out that Illarion is leaving her in charge of the enclave. To top it all, Olesya discovers there is a mole in their midst. It might be fair to say that things aren’t really going very well for any of our players, except for Purity. Or are they?
Nathan M. Farrugia writes the serial Helix. So far, it consists of six episodes (see links to reviews below), each the size of a novellas, each ending with cliff-hangers. Three of these episodes together consist of around 7000 words. Farrugia had to crowd-fund Enclave and will probably have to do the same for the remaining three episodes. Due to his background and interests, Farrugia makes his specialist soldiers believable and that goes for the technology as well. Enclave is a fast-paced cyberpunk thriller with lots of fighting and stunts. Crazy stunts that require the regenerative genes of the gang.
The author gave me a copy of Exclave. Update 13.03.3018. I later bought my own copy. I have changed the review a bit.
My reviews of:
- Helix Episode 1
- Helix Episode 2 (Exile)
- Helix Episode 3 (Interceptor)
- Helix Episode 4 (Anomaly)
- Helix Episode 5 (Inversion)
Madlands is in many ways similar to the underbelly of Los Angeles (and any city with major power players) of today. Identrope is the creator and most powerful person of this dystopian version of Los Angeles. K.W.’s version is considered cyberpunk, and that may be true. At least it would seem that way as the net of the city is explained in greater detail in a section of the story.
This explanatory section is the only downside of Madlands. During it Mr. Jeter fell from dystopia into teacher’s voice. The setting itself was a dream about a teacher/student situation, and preaching might be considered relevant in such an environment. But it felt out of place to me.
Strangely enough, and wonderfully fitting to the story of Madlands, the most powerful person in Los Angeles (downtown) today is supposed to be Tim Leiweke of the Anschutz Entertainment Group.
Entertainment is what Identrope does to boost his opinion of himself and to gather worshipers in a city you may enter but can not leave. It’s not that anyone tries to hold you back from leaving. What high Identrope exudes keeps you staying until the side-effects of his miasma of madness kills you.
We hear a lot about Identrope, but he makes few appearances. I suppose that is as it should be when part of his power lies in what he has to offer in the way of highs and entertainment. Our main character is Identrope’s deputy, Trayne.
Part of Madland’s appeal has been brought about by Trayne. It seems the US is a little low on entertainment. Trayne started a dancing group and for some reason that group made people want to listen to whatever invitations Identrope made on television and follow through on them by donating money and traveling to LA to be near their god.
Surreal is one sensation I felt while reading the story. Madlands also came through as a great piece on power. Clearly, the people who had power wanted more (even Trayne) and those who were without were disposable tools on the way there. One of those power structures happened to be the KKK. I have to admit that I was not aware of the influence the KKK had (and possibly) have in Southern California. Power is such a lure and few use it appropriately (for the best of as many as possible). I have trouble understanding why people hunger for more and more power. Madlands shows us a place where there are people who apparently never get enough of it.
Madlands available for free at Amazon Kindle (per 01 Feb 2014)
San Diego’s Ku Klux Klan 1920-1980
The 1922 Ku Klux Klan Inglewood raid
Cover design by Rachel J. Carpenter
Thomas K. Carpenter thinks that augmented reality is part of what our future digital life will be. Augmented reality is an essential part of The Lorieme Job. The Lorieme Job first appeared in the anthology Mirror Shards: Vol. 2. I came into contact with The Lorieme Job through Kindle. It was on offer for nothing and I thought “why not”. This is a choice I am happy I made.
I believe this type of science fiction is called hard science fiction. An essential part of hard science fiction is the believability of the technological future presented. Even though Zel’s world is highly augmented, I have no problem seeing us going in that direction.
Besides the science fiction, The Lorieme Job is a mystery. Zel is trying to find the person in control of “the fountain of youth” and has to do so in a way that will not get her caught. She is probably the ultimate (impossible to catch) hacker of the digital sea. During her hunt, she encounters a few surprises.
I love speculations about the future. Reading The Lorieme Job was a fun few pages. There was plenty of action, plenty of technology and a bit of humor. Zel’s plans for Redman were especially fun. She is my kind of lady.
I like mysteries. Anything from Agatha Christie to Richard Morgan. They’re all the same, in a sense. Some crime happens and the detective (police or private) comes on the scene and (usually) miraculously solves the crime. The route from A to B varies, but in essence they’re all the same. That’s why they’re so fun.
Add mystery to cyber-punk. Cyber-punk tends to be cynical and dark. Altered Carbon sticks to that kind of tone. Maybe the whole concept of having our personalities stored and ready to be placed into new bodies is a theme that lends itself to exploitation and conflict. Imagine what a person holding immense power, such as the leader of a mega-corporation, could do with access to both bodies and personalities. The lure of power is what keeps the “baddie” of Altered Carbon doing their terrible deeds.
When Takeshi Kovacs, former United Nations Envoy and a native of Harlan’s World, is killed on Harlan’s World (humans now live on various planets in our galaxy) his personality is beamed from Harlan to Old Earth (good old Terra) for a mission where his only choice is do or die (or even do and die).
There he is expected to solve the mystery of what really happened to Laurens Bancroft. Laurens Bancroft is a Meth (Methusalem from the Old Testament). As the name indicates, Mehts live an incredibly long time through resleeving their personality into new bodies. Imagine living like that and the effects time would have upon you. I imagine that in order to choose such a path and to stay on it for centuries you would have to be somewhat of a psychopath. Otherwise you would probably go insane from every one else around you dying. Insane or not Mr. Bancroft’s death has the verdict of suicide. The reason Kovacs has been revived is due to disagreement about the verdict. Here we arrive at the who-dun-it.
Takeshi Kovacs is an enjoyable character. His past haunts him and being in a new body takes some getting used to. There is explicitness in Altered Carbon. I don’t mind that, but then I am 49 years old and not 15.
I like that Mr. Morgan has kept Kovacs alive past Altered Carbon. He is a character well worth knowing – complicated.
Altered Carbon won the Philip K. Dick Award for best novel in 2003
Movie rights have been bought but the film has not been released yet. Updates on IMDB.