reviewed by Jamie Marriage

What is reality when all people see is artificial? What is control when all people have is submission? What is truth when all people know is a lie?

Graham Storrs doesn’t answer these questions, but he touches on them and attempts to reveal the morality of all-encompassing change.

Heaven is a Place on Earth is a speculative tale constructed around the idea of artificial reality and its impacts on humanity, concepts that aren’t simple imagination for us today. An upcoming vote seeks to bring all national network content under the control of local government, giving them the power to control, edit, and remove any information they find disagreeable. Written during a time when these issues are under hot debate, Storrs brings relevance to what is, at its core, a wonderful, action-packed and philosophical story.

Divided into four parts, the novel’s third person narrative alternates between Ginny, a struggling freelance composer, Rafe, a journalist attempting to return to the media world after a traumatic experience in his last case left him scarred and paranoid, and Della, corporate powerhouse and concerned friend of Ginny, just trying to keep her safe.

When Ginny delivers a mysterious package as a favour to a flirtatious acquaintance, she is quickly drawn into a world far beyond her comfort zone. Gone are the usual tired struggles for composing contracts, family squabbles, and unsatisfactory relationships, instead replaced with the struggle to stay out of prison—and alive—in a world where her every movement is trackable and every truth is a possible fabrication.

Interwoven with plots and sub-plots, Heaven is a Place on Earth pits Ginny against an anti-technology terrorist group, the Australian police force, and a consortium of international business owners chomping at the bit to have the new network control laws put in place for their own reasons. Storrs manages this complex interplay without leaving the reader confused, which is a grand feat in the circumstances.

Heaven is a Place on Earth is not a simple book, but it is a very fun book. It is a clever mix of conspiracy theory and technological speculation, with more than enough for fans of both genres. 

Buy the book on Amazon



Reviewed by Jamie Marriage

If given the opportunity to avoid extinction would you take it? Even if it meant abandoning or even destroying everything you know?

This is the major question that David Brin’s novel Existence doesn’t so much try to answer as investigate from every angle.

During a routine space-junk collection mission astronaut Gerald Livingstone goes against protocol and lassos a crystalline object that has been drifting in Earth’s orbit for longer than anyone imagined. And when the crystal egg begins to speak with the voices of alien entities, welcoming humans to join them, the already precarious balance of Earth society is thrown into chaos.

Existence is a complex entity built primarily CyberPunk and Hard Sci-Fi components, but they aren’t the only elements that have been crafted together to tell this tale, and with stunning cohesion.

Hamish Brookeman, acclaimed novelist and director, is tasked with unravelling a plot that risks the plans of his secret society. And in turn exposes far more than he expects.

Hacker, an eccentric playboy, ends up in an extreme sporting accident that results in falling into a world of strangeness and grants him a new sense of purpose.

And Tor Pavlov, pop-culture reporter extraordinaire, prevents a terrorist bombing and becomes immersed in an online culture of unimaginable proportions.

But these are only a few of the many varied characters intertwined within Existence; each of whom have a vital part to play in the overall scheme of things. The tangle weave of betrayal, suspicion and subterfuge is constantly tinged with the hint of hope and progress. Especially when a second egg is discovered that refutes the grim tale of the first.

The writing of Existence is amazing, the characters flawless in their scope and the setting a fascinatingly erratic ride through worlds often difficult to comprehend, but never hard to picture with this level of storytelling. But be warned, this is a dense parable; filled from end to end with twisting points of views and narrators-a-plenty.

It isn’t a fast book, but it is a great book. And one worth taking the time to enjoy.

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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