Archive | Novels

Rebody: Clive Warner: Citiria Publishing

rebody clive warner cover book dvd image man joined to machine remote controlledRebody: Clive Warner

“Murdered in 2009. Revived in 2373. Grafted to a vaccum cleaner. Enslaved as a domestic robot. It’s a hell of a time to be Rebodied.”

The main character in Clive Warner’s Rebody, Hugh, must be the luckiest and unluckiest run-of-the-mill professor to have lived. He is lucky in that he gets to mix with one of his students at poetry nights. Yolanda, five eight, french looking, makes a pair of jeans and baggy sweatshirt look Paris-chic, takes a liking to the professor. The professor is unlucky as Yolanda has a mean boyfriend who kind of manages to take him out with a size ten boot. He’s also unlucky (or you might say lucky I guess) because he managed to win a Cryo Freeze prize at a funfair, while out with Yolanda, earlier that same evening.

Satire and comedy in the genre have to be treated with the utmost care. Rebody tackles it well, never trying to be satirical for the sake of it. Even though the author himself has said its satirical, its reads very much tongue in cheek. From the internal dialogue of Hugh, to how he comes to terms with his environment, Hugh keeps his sense of humour. I mean, you’ve got to if the last thing you remember is getting beaten to a pulp and then waking up ’seconds later’ a few hundred years into the future, inside a vaccum cleaner.

Some of the subject matter is downright bordering on sexually explicit, but this is delivered in a genre-esque way. Having a human head grafted onto different bodies, each with its own pros and cons, but actually being gradually taken over by it. One example is Hugh having his head attached to an apes body, and talking about the size of its manhood, in human terms its quite small, in ape terms its apparently quite big. Even thinking about it now makes me guffaw. Clive delivers these tidbits in a fashion I’ve never quite seen before.
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Hybrids: David Thorpe: Harper Collins Childrens Books

hybrids david thorpebenedict campbell book cover imageHybrids: David Thorpe

A brand new voice in children’s literature offers an eerie contemporary tale on the fusion of man and machine. Hybrids was the winning entry in HarperCollins Nationwide search for an author competition with Saga Magazine, beating 882 other manuscripts to first place.

Johnny Online and Kestrella are hybrids - victims of Creep, a pandemic sweeping the country which causes suffers to merge with items of technology when over-exposed to their use. Kestrella persuades a wary Johnny to help her find her missing mother, but the sinister Gene Police have other plans for him.

The story is narrated alternately by Johnny and Kes, which is an interesting technique and works well, as it shows the same situation from both persons point of view. Meaning you can see the difference in their thoughts, especially how each sees the other. Hybrids questions our human dependence on technology, and our reactions in the face of nationwide panic. Based in a world which is current, but not quiet; which is real, but only just; which is horribly close to our fears of what is happening and may happen in the future.

A virus, Creep, has swept Britain, causing the merging of technology with people; bass guitars(!), monitors and computer innards, mobile phones, it’s all there. The people infected as deemed dirty and dangerous by the non-infected, and as such are rounded up and kept seperate. Those on the run feel isolated and live on the edge, mostly banding together to survive.

The writing is at a steady pace and as a children’s book, will easily be followed. There’s no ‘over your head technology’ to content with, it’s really just people who are different to ‘the norm’. I feel this is a nice introduction to cyberpunk. It has messages too, loving someone, not for their physical appearance, but for their ‘internal beauty’; public panic at the unknown; dependency on technology. The depenency on technology is, while reading, the message which struck me most.
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The Alchemyst: Michael Scott: Random House Kids Fantasy

the alchemyst michael scott michael wagner artwork book cover imageThe Alchemyst, The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Michael Scott

“An ancient book is lost. The modern world could be ripped apart at the seams.”

The Alchemyst: The Secrets Of Nicholas Flamel is the first in a brand new series starring The Immortal Nicholas Flamel (of Harry Potter fame). Released through Kids At Random House publishing, it’s aimed at the young adult market and, as seems to be the norm with this kind of age targetted book, has two fifteen year old siblings, Sophie and Josh Newman.

On their summer break in San Francisco, they take jobs and end up working across the street from one another, her in a coffee shop, him in a book shop which is owned by husband and wife, Perry and Nick (who is infact Nicholas). The action starts immediately, with some animated men made from mud attacking the bookshop, capturing Perry and stealing a rare book called the Codex. Luckily, Josh manages to grab the last two, and most important pages as it’s snatched away.

The Codex contains magical wisdom, and most disturbingly to Josh and Sophie, a prophecy about ‘twins’. They learn that Nicholas is a 14th century alchemist who has been hiding out and laying it low, with his wife Perry, since discovering the secret to immortality.

Attempting to recover the book and Nicholas’ wife, they encounter mythical beings, mythical places and some glowing characters: An Irish woman warrior, trained in martial arts, in the body of a young girl. A greek Hekate - The Morrigan and a poweful Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet to name but a few.
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Vacation: Jeremy C Shipp: Raw Dog Screaming Press

vacation jeremy c shipp  artwork book cover imageVacation: Jeremy C Shipp

The good folk at Raw Dog Screaming Press have unleashed on the world, Vacation; without a doubt, one of the most bizzare, crazy (and I hate to use the phrase) far-out books I have ever had the pleasure of swapping photons with.

“It’s time for Bernard Johnson to leave his boring life behind and go on The Vacation, a year long corporate-sponsored odyssey. But instead of seeing the world, Bernard is captured by terrorists, becomes a key figure in secret drug wars, and, worse, doesn’t once miss his secure American Dream.” That’s the blurb on the back, and in no way does it do the story justice.

In my opinion, it should read something like, “It’s time for Bernard Johnson to leave his boring life behind and go on a year long, corporate sponsored Vacation. Where he’s whip cracked into a world of hallucinations (maybe) and the crazy, dark side of the world today, as his brain breaks down, and he takes a tour of violence, beauty and surrealism within a challenging. violent nightmare. And not once missing his secure American Dream.”

Vacation is written in the first person, so the author tends to speak to the reader a lot - this adds to the unworldly, plain strange read it is. Adding the fact that some of the passages are written to Bernard’s parents, it mixes and matches techniques into a literary blender of truths about the world today.

You are whip lashed from one scene to another, trying hard to keep up with what is, or might be, or probably isn’t, sort of, happening. I felt there was a lot of anger in the story, anger with the world, anger with certain situations which the protagonist comes up against. It’s dark.
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The Lost Art: Simon Morden: David Fickling Books: Random House Children’s Scifi

the lost art simon morden book cover imageThe Lost Art: Simon Morden

David Fickling Books / Random House Group

“The world has turned on its axis and a traveller has arrived from beyond the stars, but it’s a secret from earth’s past that could destroy all…”

Simon Morden’s The Lost Art is set in a post apocalyptic world, at a guess, a thousand years ahead of today. Earth has been turned, literally, on its axis and forced mankind back a few hundred years to the mid fifteenth century. The inversion of the world is not really explained, so whether technology itself, or some natural global catastrophe, caused it is unknown. The story is stubborn, it doesn’t even give a hint.

Our world has gone; the Users, who were the old, pre Inversion people, have gone, and has been replaced by population suspicious of technology. Nevertheless, certain people, including the Kenyans have started to use and develop technology once more.

The story starts brutally with the slaying of a monastery of monks in Siberia. Va is the sole survivor, having the fortune to be sent away at the time of the attack. He finds that six ancient, metal covered books were stolen during the attack and, being a mental monk, striving to cleanse himself of his previous sins, he immediately sets out to get them back. The books, whose contents are thought to be dangerous, as they contain the ‘knowledge of mankind’, would bring on the destruction of the World, were locked and hidden deep in the monastery for a reason. Va is continuously followed by a princess whose love has been ignored and thwarted (remember, he’s atoning his sins), but who never gives up helping him.
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