- Paperback: 358 pages
- Publisher: EC1 Digital (8 January 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0992754941
- ISBN-13: 978-0992754945
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 535 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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The Beasts of Electra Drive Paperback – 8 Jan 2018
"Technologically intelligent, socially clever, and supernaturally chilling—a trippy sci-fi tale. […] There is some wonderful genderfluidity to some of the Beasts […]. What really impressed me, however, is the flair for language, with some really beautiful—and beautifully chilling—passages that had me dog-earing pages along the way."
—Sally Bend, Bending the Bookshelf
"Quine describes [the Beasts’] release like a beautiful dance instead of a strategic infiltration. […] a creative mashing together of Hollywood novel, science fiction, eroticism, and dystopia, with a premise that seems at once foreboding and prescient. […] the book has an important message to tell about what it is to be truly human. […] Quine obviously has a lot of affection for his Beasts, which has the same effect on the reader. He also injects humor throughout into what is at times a fairly dark storyline, replete with violence and seamy sexuality. In all, Quine has created a wholly unique look that will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. […] works exceptionally well for its creative use of tech, mixed in with a group of highly imaginative characters."
"essentially near-future cyberpunk subtly blended with elements of LA noir and dystopic fiction to create a darkly stylish and, at times, visionary glimpse into humankind’s future. […] an intriguing premise, but the story’s true power comes from its underlying theme […]. Ultimately Jaymi’s journey of self-discovery mirrors our own."
"an unctuously dark piece of magical realism interwoven with biting satire on mass culture."
—Dan Holloway, Guardian blogger
"a very visual novel […] a little like watching a particularly unsettling art house movie. You will be, in turn, disoriented, enchanted and repelled. […] pushes the boundaries of the outrageous and challenges you to go along for the ride."
—Catriona Troth, Bookmuse
"centers more on an interesting cast than fascinating sci-fi traits. Some characters are computer code in bodily form but still have depth. […] There’s likewise a rather sublime religious theme. […] The author’s lyrical prose is profound and sometimes surreal, especially in character descriptions. […] Unhurried but engrossing novel in which characters are more enticing than otherworldly technology."
"[The protagonist] discovers that he can bring his incarnations of excessive freedom, sexuality, intellectual seriousness, cool ambiguity, and dark vulnerability to life […] a powerful book […]. Pulsing with sexuality, the story will appeal to readers who enjoy artistic works rich in vocabulary, symbolism, and graphic imagery."
—Book Review Directory
"Part cyberpunk meditation and part erotic thriller, BEASTS is a stylish narrative romp […] also a postmodern-ish meditation on creativity. […] the writing grows increasingly smoother, culminating in a hauntingly pretty passage about man’s inhumanity to man and ending up with intense backstories for the Beasts."
"Magical realism meets old school noir in Rohan Quine’s technological thriller The Beasts of Electra Drive, which poses philosophical questions around reality, humanity, and where to draw the line with tech-infusion. […] Distinct writing is filled with lyrical prose and vivid sensory descriptions […]. The characters that Jaymi creates are refreshing in their diversity of race, gender, and sexuality. […] The scope of variety among the beasts is a nice change of pace."
—Foreword Clarion Reviews
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To start, let me talk a bit about that first part, the technology. This is a book that is heavily invested in the creation of technology, the programming of games and apps, and the design of the characters who populate them. There is a strong artistic element woven into this act of creation, allowing us to see how and why Jaymi creates each of his Beasts, giving them purpose and personality as well as form. Hacking is a big part of the story, both in terms of infiltrating code and in cyberspace interactions between Jaymi's beasts and his adversaries' avatars.
That technological element leads, naturally, to the social one. Ain'tTheyFreaky! is the application that promises to put Bang Dead Games on the map, and the one that drives Jaymi to abandon ship and start the creation of his Beasts. It is a despicable piece of programming that, all-too-sadly, would probably do very well in today's world. It takes the worst aspects of social media - bullying, shaming, slandering, etc. - and makes them the whole point. The more you bring others down, the higher you rise, and the more shocking your social attacks, the more points you earn. The worst part of the game is that it is not aimed at other players, or even at celebrities - exposing neighbors, friends, family, and random strangers will bring you the most points.
As for the supernatural aspect, this is a book that would have been entirely serviceable with just the hacking and virtual reality interfaces, but what makes it really compelling is the ability for Jaymi's Beasts to step out into meat-space (I love that term) and take on corporeal form. These characters grow, learn, and even challenge their programming - they are somewhat childish in their willful independence, to the point of being sociopaths, although they demonstrate real emotion. There is some wonderful genderfluidity to some of the Beasts, with Shigem never feeling "quite like a boy, being half a gender to the left" and Scorpio whose "nature flowers with so transgender a beauty," as well as a gay love affair between two Beasts who were created for one another. Lest you forget that this is a revenge fantasy, however, Amber is modeled after Rutger Hauer's character in The Hitcher, while Scorpio's defining moment is the fantasy of dominating an entire prison as the most dangerous boy in a skirt.
In terms of the overall narrative, I found The Beasts of Electra Drive a little repetitive in parts, but I strongly suspect those patterns and passages were deliberate on Quine's part, coding the story as much as writing it. What really impressed me, however, is the flair for language, with some really beautiful - and beautifully chilling - passages that had me dog-earing pages along the way. Personally, I found the social commentary and the digital sparring with colleagues far more interesting than the real-world gore that drives the climax, but I love the uncertainty or unreliability of Jaymi as a narrator, and the open-ended question as to whether the end justifies the means.