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Tag Archives: steampunk

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

MARIANNE DE PIERRES
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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Cyberpunk and the City – the view from AussieCon4

Commentary with great validity from the 2010 WorldCon echoed many traditional science fiction themes. A panel discussion with Marianne de Pierres, Charles Stross, Russell Blackford and Gord Sellar looked at genres and modern examples.

Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres

Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres`

Although influenced by cyberpunk but suggesting they may not be cyberpunk writers, both Charles and Gord agreed with Marianne on a basic point of view – we are living in a world that is exhibiting phobias brought on by future shock. Examples from the panel and the floor included the seeking of power and the resulting repression and “police security” culture in some countries, and even some states or regions within countries.

Clarkesworld by Gord Sellar

Clarkesworld by Gord Sellar

The “city as a character” was examined, including Gotham and the writing of Dickens, while it was also suggested cities have not achieved their full promise yet. The city need not necessarily be dystopian or bleak although the rise of China and Japan offered potential storylines of cities with vast populations and the impacts on the citizens.

Saturn's Children by Charles Stross

Saturn's Children by Charles Stross

The panel also suggested sub-genres, for example biopunk, and books like Shockwave Rider were essentially concerned with people in extreme future shock. The discussion included examples of post-cyberpunk – which has changed organically – but the overview suggested the underlying aesthetic from William Gibson still exists. The themes of fundamentalism, whether political, cultural or religious, inform many steampunk novels, short stories and the related sub-genres.

One stream of discussion wondered if William Gibson and other early writers of cyberpunk were using a personna building methodology and so “punk” is about the writers rather than an integral element of their stories.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Fandom, Publishing, Social Media, Writing

 

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The Steampunk Playground Within Speculative Fiction

The issues of “what is” and “where is” could be more important to steampunk than the conventional “what if” of science fiction themes, according to Richard Harland, John Berlyne and Jay Lake.

John Berlyne

John Berlyne

In fact, Jay considers steampunk is fantasy rather than science fiction, while Richard pondered whether steampunk is a style rather than a literary movement in itself. Nonetheless the panel said style can continue as a standard and separated steampunk from being just “a fashion” which could be seen as a date-related fad.

Richard Harland

Richard Harland

The panel considered steampunk today is historical and Victorian to a large extent, whereas Wells and Verne were writing contemporaneously so, in a sense, not steampunk although their themes and concerns inform the genre today. The panel also viewed medieval and Dickens and gothic within the style, while suggesting Dune as an archetypal steampunk movie.

Although the writing style exists in its own right, games, costumes, movies and art probably return more revenue than books.

Steampunk requires strength in the characters and in the storylines so it appeals to the eccentric and the non-sterile mindset, and John added that it has a link to raw invention, making it pre-technology to an extent.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Fandom, Publishing, Social Media, Writing

 

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