Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dangerously close to death of various kinds

Crash Deluxe (Parrish Plessis #3)MARIANNE DE PIERRES
Crash Deluxe
Volume three of the PARRISH PLESSIS series

Parrish Plessis returns in the third of the series, and now she’s a fabulous chameleon, still grounded in an unlikely Earth-mother sense of responsibilities, yet with skills and determination that are discovered/grow with each new battle.

The quick-thinking problem-solving can also lead Parrish into more danger, so de Pierres carries on, allowing her heroine to grow into a fantastic combination of a James Bond and/or Max from Dark Angel, each sticky situation taking its toll and yet offering another glimpse of potential – for both the heroine and the story arcs.

This is science fiction/fantasy (currently often referred to as speculative fiction) of the highest order. While the main story is terrific in its pace and exploration of de Pierres’ fantastic future world, there are moments of truly clever thinking by the author.

For example, just after a third of the book, Parrish is a speck, a tiny mote in a huge data stream, adrift and directionless, dangerously close to death of various kinds. After numerous failures her ‘inner Angel’ suggests a solution: “Use smell to find your friend.”

The reader (and Parrish) are lifted from the digital virtual space, away from issues of power and corruption, away from good and evil or any thoughts of mortality and the universe:

“I followed a pale auburn stream of data, seeking out a familiar smell. It was there, behind the salty tangs of the data-streams and the mustiness of the repositories – the faintest odour of life.

“I set myself after it like a dog.”

This ability to infuse the fantastic with the immediate, to step down from the ‘mighty path’ that can strangle much fantasy, is a rare skill that de Pierres can use in just the right measure.

Crash Deluxe is a fine third installment in the Plessis novels. More enemies have been avoided/repelled/vanquished and Parrish is more or less whole at the conclusion of another wonderful series of capades. Easily 5 stars and I wait for further installments.

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Reviews, Speculative Fiction


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A Harsh Land of Extremes and Perilous Journeys

Code Noir (Parrish Plessis #2)MARIANNE DE PIERRES
Code Noir
Volume two of the PARRISH PLESSIS series 

Power, responsibilities and debts are never far from immediate if not perilous concerns for Parrish Plessis and this, the second book of the series begun with Nylon Angel, hurtles the heroine from talented adolescent to weight-of-the-world adulthood.

One of the many thrills of the de Pierres stories is the clever conceal-and-partially-show of both characters and story arcs. The thrilling pace of the books, interspersed with just enough social and/or technological grit, leaves the reader both satisfied and wanting more.

De Pierres, just like Plessis, appears to have a soft spot for many of the secondary characters, and some reappear hundreds of pages later in significant episodes of the story. And what secondary ‘characters’ some of them are – virtual PAs, biotech mergings, sentient ‘trees’ etc. Whether allies or foes, major or minor, all characters in this series have a role or purpose that exceeds those of most ciphers in much fiction. This is something I look for, and often find, in current speculative fiction.

The setting for the novels is a harsh land of extremes, with facets of ‘old’ Australia and a certain belligerent stubbornness in a few characters that could easily be considered an Oz trait! The haves and have-nots are both at the mercy of powerful forces, with Parrish and her allies, old and new, often buffeted in unexpected and very violent ways.

Describing Parrish as a ‘kick-ass cyberpunk heroine’ does no disservice to her or Lisbeth Sander – both have the guts, street cred, street smarts and sexual maturity to overcome most adversity, even when at a cost to themselves. But no, there is no happy-ever-after male companion at the end of the novels – and that is another huge plus. 5 stars.

Footnote: The historical Code Noir was a decree passed by King Louis XIV in 1685, defining France’s living conditions for race, slavery and freedom.
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Reviews, Speculative Fiction


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Guts, Personal Demons, Internal Dialogues, New Heroines

Nylon Angel
Volume one of the PARRISH PLESSIS series

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Speculative Fiction – whatever you want to call it, there is a strength and depth to it that surpasses other fiction genres.

Crime and Thrillers and Mystery can have terrific stories and be well told, but in most cases those novels are ploughing the same ground, with most characters only a few degrees different to hundreds of others. Only a few authors like Andrew Vacchs have created outstanding bodies of work in those genres.

Nylon Angel, the first of the Parrish Plessis series, introduces a fascinating and internally-consistent post-disaster world, cleverly populated with characters that shout their individuality from each page.

Tough girl Parrish has all the guts, personal demons and internal dialogues that are common to the Crime Thriller style, but the sheer talent and audacity of de Pierres imagination raises the stakes – and the reader’s interest – well beyond the norm. Each chapter propels the story lines, introducing essential detail along with plenty of opportunities for moral and/or philosophical musings.

This is not a slick but ultimately hollow cops and robbers in space (and I guess the Political Correctness Police will not let us say cowboys and indians in space any more in case someone will get ‘upset’ by such terms). Rather, this is a wonderfully created alternate world with its own breeds/races/cultures and loyalties/animosities that can be enjoyed as great story telling. 5 stars.

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Reviews, Speculative Fiction


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Lost in One-Eighth of a Quartet

A Shadow On The Glass
“A tale of the three worlds”
Volume one of THE VIEW FROM THE MIRROR quartet.

Although I enjoyed the first half of this book, especially the rich world-building and character portrayals, the second half became standard fantasy fare, with insurmountable odds eventually becoming insurmountable for the author, and each character became a weak shadow of their early potential.

By chapter 26 (page 349 of 572 in the Penguin edition), my reading was more task than enjoyment. The story held interest but one character after another lost significance. I finished the book but by then didn’t care enough about any character to want to read more of the series. It seemed as though the characters escaped from Irvine, that he couldn’t harness their potential or keep their interaction at a dynamic level, so in the end all became ciphers that failed both their tasks and the story.

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Reviews


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