An a Atomic Moo Book Review!
Okay El Moochadores, I’m back to review another Titan Books classic. Well, new classic. Actually, it’s not that new. Titan sent me this book sometime ago to review, and I just recently finished it. d’oh. No disrespect to Titan Books, just my crappy life takes some maneuvering. And speaking of crappy lives: Let’s talk about Shock Pao! First, here’s a proper synopsis:
Shock Pao is not just any Haunt—he’s the best. There isn’t a system that he can’t crack into, no virtual lock he can’t pick, nothing he can’t steal for the right price. Outside virtual world the Slip, though, he’s a Fail—no degree, no job, no affiliations to protect him from angry ex-customers. Of which he has quite a few. So when his ex brings Shock a job which could help him escape his miserable existence, he accepts, little realizing that it will turn out to be his most impossible, illegal and incredible assignment yet.
Amiga works for Twist Calhoun, one of the toughest crime lords in the Gung, as a Cleaner—assassin. Trapped in a world of kill-or-be-killed, she wants out. But when Shock’s war comes to her, she doesn’t have a choice: it’s her job to bring him to Twist, dead or alive—or it’ll be her head in a bag in Twist’s vault.
Escapology really reminded me of mid-1990’s science fiction. Movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Virtuosity, (maybe) Hackers, or any thing else from that time that tried to cram young-ish punks, dystopian futures, and a crazy version of “future internet” into one story. I do (actually) dig those kind of stories, I can’t argue that they are any good, and the same goes for Escapology. Though Warom’s story starts out great with the introduction of (what I’m guessing is) a future hacker who also has massive self esteem/drug abuse problems, the story quickly starts to serve up a series of “what the fuck” moments.
There’s no real order to my list of gripes with Escapology, so this is going to be a ramble. Starting with: The world has been shattered, and now has giant floating land ships and pirates, but somehow kept, major cities, the internet (Future Internet!), and self abusing teenagers. Then (Spoilers!!!), somehow holograms from the unreal world can leap out of Shock’s eyes and start killing the really real people, even though they are holograms. Made of light. Then there is the inclusion of the now almost standard issue (for every fucking story now… go social justice!) female bad ass, Amiga. It seems in 2017 you can’t create a story with out including a little ninja chick to prove equality among the sexes. Which sucks, because Shock was already this interesting character stocked with tons of diversity, and “fuck the norm” attitude, that deserved way more attention than weird future sailors, and off the shelf feminism complete with a crossbow. Finally (again Spoilers!!!), there’s the big rally at the end of the story where all the groups come together to take down the big baddies. Just like in the 90’s future internet stories I mentioned before! Well, except virtuosity. Denzel mostly just outwits Russel Crowe, but it’s still worth a watch! Seriously, Crowe eats glass, Denzel get’s his arm blown off, and the world is denied easy made robo-whores in the worst way possible! Vituosity rocks!!! Wait… where was I?
Despite all of this; I still think Warom is a great writer, and has a lot of potential for future stories. Sure, I felt like Escapology “face plants” a bit, but it also demonstrates a ton of imagination for both character development and world building. Shock Pao by himself is a great read. As well as his interactions with his ex-lovers and past experiences. I feel it is a bit unfortunate more attention wasn’t paid to Shock and his problems. Instead, a shark jumped out of his face. Okay, I’m still a bit bugged by that one. Though if the story had been called “boy who shoots killer sharks out of his eyes” I would have loved it from the beginning, because I was expecting a kid who… yeah you get it.
I do have a copy of the second novel in the series, Virology, and I’m hoping some of the stuff like people eating holo-sharks, will be explained. You can get your own copy of Escapology at every major book seller, or online now at Titan Books. Now, everybody writing science fiction go rent (fuck, I am old…) download, or, stream Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic and then don’t do any of that in your story!