Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen

Ross Baker is having a bad day. Having found out from office gossip that his beloved girlfriend has fallen pregnant but does not trust him enough to tell him, he volunteers for a scan using the new technology his company, Neurosphere, is developing. The scan is meant to take his mind off the complications in his life, and it does, just not in the way that Ross had expected.

Now he is trapped inside Starfire, the computer game he had played incessantly as a child. No matter what he does, he cannot escape. Dying is painful, but only leads to respawning. There are bridges that can take him out of the game, only to lead him to other games. What’s worse, a group of people called the Integrity have set up within the game world and are trying to close off all the bridges, using brute force if necessary. Ross must find out what they are doing before time runs out for him and everyone else.

From the blurb one would expect Bedlam to be a fast-paced action with a lot of thrills and kills, but not much heart. That would be wrong. It does have action, but there are a lot of other things going on in this novel. It’s philosophical and strangely domestic. Stuck in a game – or set of games – where pretty much anything goes, Ross’s character is defined more by what he has left behind than by his actions. He considers the ramifications of killing before he makes any kills and his mind is consistently on Carol, his pregnant girlfriend. Ultimately Ross is a pillar of morality, and he has the intellect to be able to consider ethics on a scholarly level.

The writing is third person, but from Ross’s perspective and it is as clever as it ought to be in showing Ross’s thought processes. Brookmyre’s writing is at turns witty, thoughtful or self-deprecating, but it is always in character.

The pace is the only thing that lets this novel down. There were a few reveals that I figured out before Ross did because of pacing issues. Usually that wouldn’t bother me, but Brookmyre sold me on Ross being smarter than me (and most of the general population) and he should have been able to figure out anything that I could.

There were quite a few reveals that I didn’t figure out, though. And, although I beat Ross to some of them, his reaction to the news was starkly different to what I would expect and quite refreshing.

 Bedlam isn’t what one would expect from the cover and blurb. It is, however, a wonderful read that takes into account the moral dilemmas we will increasingly face as our technology advances. It’s an inventive and thought-provoking read that I would recommend to gamers and non-gamers alike.

 Bedlam – Christopher Brookmyre

 Orbit Books (February 7, 2013)

 ISBN: 9781408704073

reviewed by Jamie Marriage

Set upon islands floating above a forsaken world, The Brightest Light, by Scott J. Robinson, is a classic action adventure story with plenty of surprises. Within a fast paced world of organized crime and seemingly endless chaos; Robinson has set the stage for a twisted tale of violence and redemption.

The Brightest Light is the first novel I’ve been able to comfortably categorize as ‘CrystalPunk’. Many fascinating universes exist within speculative fiction; some are cybernetic, some are steam or clockwork powered, and some breath diesel fumes, but the Brightest Light is the one of the few that stand tall and proudly proclaim “Because… crystals”. This is a great thing. By establishing a technological basis for his work, Robinson has been able to fully explore culture and intrigue without delving into the heady waters of scientific detail that often detracts from the action. And action, there is a plenty. Barely a chapter passes between gun-fights, back-alley chases or poisonous political corruption. This makes for a novel difficult to put down.

Story and character design is solid and consistent. Kade, an criminal turned honest citizen after his last job turned bad, is called back after a decade of exile, for one more big theft. Unbeknownst to him his criminal revival is less to bring him back to the fold of the Skyway men, and more to frame him for an even more important crime. Every island he travels to with his police officer companion, Lana, brings forth new challenges and dangers, but also new opportunities. Morals and money are loose in the Skylands. Kade is reminded of this when he encounters crooked police, corrupt politicians and plenty of everyday people happy to take him for all he’s got, while he’s attempting to clear his name and take back something that could put all the skylands at risk.

The Brightest Light is a heady and enjoyable read from cover-to-cover, at worst suffering for its frenetic pace, but made up for with lashings of strong characters, imaginative scenes, and well choreographed action.

Kindle link for US http://www.amazon.com/Brightest-Light-Scott-J-Robinson-ebook/dp/B007XCWAEW/
Kindle link for Aus http://www.amazon.com.au/The-Brightest-Light-Scott-Robinson-ebook/dp/B007XCWAEW/ Paperback Link for amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Brightest-Light-Scott-Robinson/dp/1479393185/

Paper back link for Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Brightest-Light-Scott-J-Robinson/9781479393183

 

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m ABSOLUTELY delighted to announce that the SENTIENTS OF ORION series is now available in e-book format in the USA. You can purchase it  through:

E-READS

KOBO (coming soon)

APPLE

AMAZON

NOOK






As you know, I’m blessed to have amazing artist WAYNE HAAG drawing a free graphic novel to celebrate the release of the books. You’ve already seen the cover – but here’s a sneak peek at some of the internals as well. The graphic novel entitled The Hue will be available from this website in February 2013.


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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