cover from AmazonThe anthology Disquiet is now available in ebook from Amazon. To celebrate the occasion, the publisher is running a promotion on Amazon from 3 to 9 January, 2015 – for that week only, you’ll be able to savour the delights of Antipodean dark fiction and poetry  in electronic form for US 99 cents. And to help spread the word about the promotion, I’ve decided to give this newfangled Thunderclap thing a go.

If you’re already familiar with Thunderclap – perhaps you’ve supported a few campaigns, or several, or run your own campaigns – then great! Here’s the link to my campaign. If you choose to support it, that’s even more greatness.

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/20158-disquiet-unsettling-fiction

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then read on.

Thunderclap tells us that they are “the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together.” If you have a message that you want to convey to a wider audience than your current social media avenues allow, then you can set up a Thunderclap campaign. If you can attract a minimum of 100 supporters to back your campaign, then at the appointed time your chosen message will be broadcast automatically by Thunderclap through their Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr feeds. Setting up a Thunderclap campaign takes minutes, and the no-frills version is free. For supporters, it’s even easier – a couple of clicks of the mouse, and you’re done and dusted.

Thunderclap’s case studies make for interesting browsing; users as diverse as L’Oreal, The White House and Univision have run successful campaigns reaching millions of people, with the most successful campaign to date going out to over 381 million people.

My ambitions are far more modest; 100 supporters, and a few more readers of Disquiet than I can entice from my immediate circle. Already the few people I’ve mentioned this to who have chosen to support the campaign have brought with them over 22,000 potential pairs of eyes on the message.

Imagine what we could achieve with your help.

 

By original data: Sebastien D'ARCO, animate: Koba-chan [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

OK, so technically this is lightning, not thunder, but you get the idea…


(Disclosure: I received an electronic copy from the publisher for review purposes via Netgalley.)


In the year 2023 Saskia Brandt, detective with the European FIB, comes back from holiday newly single, tired and full of sadness. Heading straight back to the office she finds no peace, only her receptionist dead and no suspects. Given only 12 hours to clear her name she sets to work on unravelling the mystery, one that proves greater than the sum of its parts.

David Proctor is just an academic eating his breakfast until he gets a phone-call telling him the prototype computer – Ego – he has been loaned is now the only one left. Meanwhile someone has broken into his house, someone who wants him to go back to the lab where his wife died in a bomb attack 20 years before.

As the mysteries and intrigue envelop Saskia and David they are forced to unpick their own pasts. Because in Déjà Vu you find that things aren’t as they seem, truth is a matter of perspective and that the past can change just as quickly as the future.

* * * * *

The science fiction tropes come thick, fast and early on in this techno-thriller, (artificial intelligence, mind wiping and implanted memories, time travel, virtual reality, nanotech and underwater cars, to name a few), so much so that at first I was concerned that many of them might have been thrown in gratuitously. But I needn’t have worried – Hocking soon gathers all the threads together and weaves them into an intricate, meticulously plotted tale. FIB detective Saskia Brandt is a compelling character as she struggles to discover and define her true self, all the while staying one step ahead of those who have the will and the means to end her.

I’d hazard a guess that P.K. Dick is one of the author’s influences; Déjà Vu is in some ways reminiscent of Dick’s work with its themes of memory (both real and invented) and identity. This novel doesn’t break new ground in SF, but is no less intelligent or well-crafted for it.


(Disclosure: I received an electronic copy from the publisher for review purposes via Netgalley.)

“The Beauty” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where disease has wiped out the entire human female population. It is narrated by Nate, a young man living a simple and settled existence in a small rural community of boys and men. He holds a special role in the community, that of storyteller. It is a role that he clearly deserves with the distinctive voice that author Aliya Whiteley gives him, a voice that is at once poetic and crystalline.

The community’s life is thrown into chaos with the arrival of The Beauty – mute and faceless fungoid creatures that have arisen from the graves of women and taken on strangely alluring feminine forms. Some literally and figuratively embrace The Beauty as embodiments of love; as Nate says, “The Beauty offer comfort, sex and softness. What else is there?” Others fear and distrust the Beauty – and when the extent of their power becomes fully apparent, the divide widens, with violent and catastrophic consequences.

“The Beauty” is an exemplary representation of New Weird, a subgenre variously described as “cutting edge speculative fiction with a literary slant”, a borderless combination of science fiction, fantasy and supernatural horror, and fiction that “subverts clichés of the fantastic in order to put them to discomfiting, rather than consoling ends.” It is exquisitely crafted, astonishingly creative, and discomfiting as hell.