Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

Henley_TheHuntForPierreJnrThe notion of summarizing an entire trilogy in one brief review seems implausibly difficult, if not irrational in the extreme; the intense development of characters, the interplay of groups or philosophies, the twists and turns that halt the breath and make the reader re-read the same pages again and again for a deeper understanding boggle rationality. But this is required for The Pierre Jnr Trilogy by David M Henley. This is not a single book that stands all alone, but a creature, nay an organism, that is the sum of every part.

Broadly the trilogy is the story of persecution, revolution and evolution. It takes place on earth some years distant from our own. Past war and reconstruction, technological marvel and true horror, have left a world connected by technology to the point that mankind’s every interaction is monitored as both a measure of control and stability. There are now roughly only two groups that make up the globe’s twenty billion population: The World Union, the bulk of the population connected by The Will that takes consensus votes from every member as to any decision that is made within the Union; and the Psis, a telepathic and telekinetic sub-race born from the confusion of the last dark age, persecuted and vilified as the new monsters in the shadows.

This is also a story about Pete Lazarus, a telepath who can’t remember his past but wants to stop the one force bent on destroying everything: a young boy called Pierre Jnr.

The Hunt for Pierre Jnr

The first volume of the trilogy quickly builds setting and character for the arc that is to come. Pete Lazarus has decided, after years of hiding, to hand himself into the force bent on capturing every Psi on the planet and sending them to concentration camps amongst the artificial islands that dot the oceans. But his surrender is dependant on one condition; he wants to be part of the team that hunts Pierre Jnr, a mythical telepath so powerful that he controls everyone he encounters, but whom no-one can ever remember afterwards.

Pete is quickly introduced to other members of his hunting team; Colonel Pinter – also known as The Scorpion – retired services hero and seen as an expendable asset; an information operative of incredible skill, Geof Ozenbach; and Tamsin Grey, a telepath trained to hunt her own kind.

Henley uses this novel to set the scene for the rest of the trilogy. Here we learn how this new world functions, how The Will is everything and can change the very nature of society overnight, and how one wrong step for an entire group of peoples can land them in prison and permanently medicated in minutes.

When the mysterious Pierre Jnr manifests his powers in one of the world’s greatest megacities there is little doubt that this isn’t just a race to catch one little boy, but to save the very nature of mankind.

henley_manifestations+coverManifestations

After the sudden release of an impossible force that consumes an entire city, the world union is thrown into disarray. Using this opportunity presented to them from a source unknown, the Psi’s of the world now unite under a common banner to claim the freedom they crave, even if it is at the expense of any non-Psi they encounter.

In this second volume, the World Union and its dogmatic leader Ryu Shima are now faced with two opponents. On one side is the revolution of a class of people he had spend his life suppressing, and who were now intent on establishing their own sovereign nation. On the other side, is the Beast of Busan, an all consuming black mass of unknown origin that swallows up man and machine alike.

This second novel is far more about development. Intense new characters are introduced and the bulk of the trilogy’s integral backstory is explained. This focus does little to detract from the action, however; as the revolution ascends so does the ferocity of its members and the retaliation of the World Union’s armed Services.

All of this buildup has to lead to something big…

 

henley-convergencecoverConvergence

This third volume is the culmination of everything up to this point. The Psi revolution that claims more members by the minute — be it voluntarily or through manipulation — the black mass that has enveloped more cities, the paranoia of the world’s leaders, and the intent of Pete Lazarus to achieve a resolution that doesn’t result in the death of everyone.

To dig deeper into this elaborate design would be to spoil what is an incredible journey of ethical and philosophical discovery.

David M Henley has created a trilogy that is both deeply complex and highly enjoyable. Every chapter, divided up with either lines of worship or warnings about Pierre Jnr, is a twist of the ethical knife. Be it influenced by The Will of the people, manipulation by the Psi’s or by Pierre Jnr himself, or pure self interest, each decision that must be made is a hard one. It serves to make the reader ponder their own reaction to the situation and to ask themselves what the right choice really is.

The Pierre Jnr Trilogy is truly a masterful work by an author who has a grasp on his world that begs for future interactions. With his distinct characters and swift narrative flow in a land both alien and familiar, Henley has penned something truly unique, yet at the same time very reminiscent of the great golden age science fiction writer/philosophers such as John Brunner, David Niven or Algis Budrys. A long read all-in-all, but one well worth it.

 

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

alexander-abducticonWelcome to Abducticon! This weekend will be of this world.

Getting to read something light and crazy is a great pleasure in a world where so much so science fiction is dark and complicated. AbductiCon by Alma Alexander is a wonderful example of what you can do with familiar settings, pop culture, and a less serious tone.

Taking place in a generic science fiction/pop culture convention, the novel begins in the midst of the chaotic moments before the opening of a mid-sized convention catering to science fiction and fantasy fans, gamers, and the general geek community. Anything that could go wrong is going wrong: the posters are getting re-printed for the third time, the guest of honour missed his flight and out of contact, the coffee in the hotel is terrible, and there are some strange silver people getting in the way and confusing the staff.

Andie Mae — running the con for the first time after instigating a coup to assume power from the man who had been running it for the last three decades — is caught up in matters common to those in convention management when, suddenly, she has to face a crisis not only unimagined by previous management, but also by anyone else outside of fiction. Her convention, hotel and all, are abducted by alien androids with baffling motives. Within a very short period the convention is newly christened “Abducticon” and becomes something far greater than just an evening for fans to meet Terminator and Star Trek actors.

Making fun of itself and the very culture which spawned it is one of the main elements of Abducticon. Alma is quick to jump on any chance to throw in a quote or simile from popular media, be it a Star Wars joke when an elevator gets stuck, introduction of new technology only seen in Star Trek, or even just cursing in Battlestar Galactica fashion. It’s these little forays into the cultural heart of what is, especially in America, a very popular community, which helps to flesh out character and explain concepts that could easily be the basis of long philosophical discussions.

Alma has done a great job putting this novel together. Characters are well drawn and with plenty of depth; the setting is perfect and believable – even if the situation isn’t – and the interactions and discussions thought provoking and real. There are plenty of interesting concepts afloat such as the limitations of the laws of robotics and the nature of destiny. More than enough to impress, not only the die-hard Sci-Fi buff, but also, the casual reader.

Abducticon is a fantastically fun ride: not quite a spoof, not quite serious, but on every level enjoyable from cover to cover.

 

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

Gibson_The_PeripheralWhen it comes to eclectic storytelling William Gibson is, if not king, then an accomplished baron. His earlier works have brought forth the birth of Cyberpunk, awareness of the realities of technological advancement and the dangers of globalised surveillance, and more narrative creativity than is usually found in a geek’s library. And in his newest work, The Peripheral, it’s easy to say that Gibson’s eccentric prose has hit upon another winner.

Complex from the start, and requiring more than a little lateral thinking to work out the story’s arc, The Peripheral is a deep and compelling near-future tale told in numerous tiny chapters–often at a hectic pace.

When young gamer girl, Flynne’s, military veteran brother hires her to take his place in an online game piloting drone aircraft, she can’t see beyond the quick cash and excitement of the unknown; before long she is drawn into what seems to be the death of one of the game’s characters in a world not quite like her own. The sudden and mysterious death of armed strangers to her small community is only bound to complicate matters.

In another place and time, media publicist Netherton is charged with the protection of, and advertising for, a client in his charge: a client who has been sent to a newly formed island in the middle of the sea to negotiate with the mutated inhabitants living there. However, both the client and Netherton have their own agenda, which doesn’t bode well for what, to the world, appears a diplomatic mission and publicity stunt.

Things become all the more confused when Netherton is placed in charge of contacting Flynne, whose family is in a land distant in both geography and in continuity.

Exploring two worlds simultaneously is problematic enough, far more so when those timelines are only two or three pages apart. On one side there is emerging technology, heavy economic disparity, guns, drugs, war veterans riddled with PTSD and uncertainty. On the other, is a bright, clean post-scarcity society of deeply engrained advanced technology and strangeness. But somehow Gibson manages to do it with only an initial burst of confusion–a momentary feeling that you’ve stepped into something far bigger than you are used to.

It’s difficult to break down The Peripheral without revealing too much content. Every paragraph is carefully measured and constructed to keep every chapter down to a few scant pages, conveying quickly, and with little wastage, a story deeply complicated and yet approachable if given the opportunity.

Due to the limited nature of each chapter, character development is light but drawn out over the course of the novel, with little pieces forming complete pictures of each character’s motivations, which at the beginning might seem shallow or misaligned. The same goes for the overall storyline. What initially may be seen as a fictional discourse on the future of society where drone technology and 3D printers are the nature of society’s economy(which would seem at home in one of Gibson’s previous series), rapidly becomes a twisted knot of intrigue and counter intrigue far more intricate than at first glance.

The Peripheral is a book of plot within plot, at a level of complexity inside incredible complexity. To start the novel is to be drawn into a rapid current across timelines. It’s difficult, but making it through to the end of this powerful story is well worth a bit of chaos during the journey.

 

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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