Tag Archives: speculative fiction

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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YA Speculative Fiction continues to gain readers and importance

One of the most interesting streams of discussion during AussieCon4, the 68th world science fiction convention, related to Young Adult and, more particularly, YA speculative fiction.

Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh

Providing commentary and discussion points on a panel devoted to YA, Bec Kavanagh, Zoe Walton, Kate Forsyth and Helen Merrick brought dozens of years of experience with the genre and, between them, professional expertise relating to dozens of published works.

Kate believes the “explosion of interest and sales in YA” comes from the strength of storylines and that kids love to be entranced with adventure and wonder. Bec added that since speculative fioction expanded from the “constraints of sf and fantasy” we now have a genre that can include Kate and Cory Doctorow, for example.

Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth

Bec said the “what if” zone is especially appealing to kids, and a recent poll showed both kids and adults favoured the genre with 48 of 100 titles having strong spec fic elements, a sure indication of the power and importance of the books.

Spec fic can transcend normal boundaries according to Kate, who is read in 13 countries and by men as much as women plus from an age range of 8 to 80 – the universal themes are not specific to geography or time period, allowing people of all cultures to immerse themselves in the stories.

Zoe Walton

Zoe Walton

The panel also believe YA has a richness of story in most cases, and see this in contrast to the “cleverness” of what we read in adult literary fiction.

Some panel members suggested High Fantasy may replace the dominance of Urban Fantasy over the next couple of years. YA is female dominated to a great degree, perhaps as a balance to the cowboy hero memes and male buddies in so many other genres and in film.

Helen Merrick

Helen Merrick

Bec added YA fans are very loyal and avid readers, while Kate suggested one secret is the common inclusion of “telling details” in the genre, citing the allure of secret rooms and adjective-rich descriptions.

Reading stats in last two years for the YA genre beat all others and, most significantly, have doubled each year in past two years. One reason cited for this is teens have enormous expendable time available, which can average 11 hours a day. Teens also now have  large expendable incomes compared to just a few years ago, plus take a more active role in family decisions about which books to buy or borrow from libraries.

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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Social Media, Writing, YA


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