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.

 

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_trigger-warningTrigger Warning; it’s a phrase that carries with it a freight-train of emotional baggage. A physical manifestation of the term would not be dissimilar to a road-sign, glimpsed in the dark of a stormy night, reading “Treacherous Roads Ahead”. And in this newest collection of short stories by renowned British author, Neil Gaiman, the title is all too apt.

Gaiman’s collection is many things: it’s stories of bite-sized lengths that conjure brief glimpses of other times or worlds; continuations of long held narratives that deserve one last visit; standalone tales of truth and fantasy; and, as the title warns, deep and darker elements.

As a tome,Trigger Warning is a strange yet poignant collection of works by a man who has made it his life to get under the reader’s skin. And while every piece is distinct from every other, somehow, with true Gaiman style, the pieces fit together as one wondrous whole of lyrical poetry, vast sadness, and shy beauty.

The introduction itself is a lengthy and evocative description on the notion of Triggers, of those things that set off long buried fears, and serve as an unspoken agreement that to continue reading is with knowledge that the road you travel is risky, and that you have been warned.

Gaiman goes on to break down the backstory of each piece, describing the trigger that set the author to write each story and poem. These are worth reading either before or after the work itself.

A few of the stories that stand out the most must include The Thing About Cassandra–a twisted tale highlighting the dangers of imagination, and how the things we create can be more real than we could imagine.

A Calendar of Tales is a collection of flash fiction told under the headings of months. No story here is longer than a couple of pages but each has depth and hints at worlds fleetingly glimpsed through windows.

Nothing O’Clock is an episode of Doctor Who that never was to be. A humorous, if dark, incident in which the human race is being wiped from existence by its own greed.

And finally Black Dog, a title that fills those who have gone through depression, or those who have known those who do, with chills. This final tale continues the legacy of Shadow from Gaiman’s earlier novel American Gods. Shadow is waylaid in a quiet English town that is haunted by a dark spectre that is both an illness and a myth.

Trigger Warning is honest with its title; there is much to be cautious about in this book. There are some happy endings, some not so happy, and a few that are bound to induce fear, sadness, or revulsion.

All great literature strives to evoke reaction; Neil Gaiman has just done the gentlemanly thing by being honest about what you are getting yourself into when you turn the page.

 

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian science fiction writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in the cyberpunk genre and Japan.

robinson_the last great heroThe Age of Heroes, first of Scott Robinson’s newest series The Last Great Hero, is a refreshing look at the fantasy hero genre.

Centered around Rawk — a classic-styled hero resisting both retirement and death, which has taken so many of his competition — who is living the life of a legend but with little to do when word spreads of new threats to his community. Creatures long thought banished or extinct have returned, and as the last living hero in the land it naturally falls to Rawk to slay them. So despite aching back and limbs, feelings of irrelevance, and constant reminders of his advanced years, Rawk proceeds to the forest edge to face another in a long life of challenges, unaware of greater threats ahead.

Robinson does well to diverge from the traditional sword and sorcery of classic fantasy. Rawk is deeply flawed with decades of prejudice and insecurities exposed though action and inaction, bringing forth a depth of character seldom seen in the genre.

While not an overly long read, The Age of Heroes manages to engage in plenty of action, and create strong characters and a compelling narrative. Settings are detailed without being dense, and dialogue does well to convey the feelings of bit-players without the usual dramatic boasting of most bare-chested barbarians.

The Age of Heroes is a great, quick read by a talented author. Well worth picking up if you like your classic fantasy with a little extra depth.

Available at :

http://www.amazon.com/Heroes-Last-Great-Hero-Book-ebook/dp/B00PK18VR8/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492437

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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