Posted on September 21, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Available at Amazon.com
So when we last everyone’s favorite and most famous gunner, Avery Cates, in the Digital Plague, he was on his knees and smiling. Hoping that this was the end, and that the universe would just put the bullet in his head and let him rest. I mean he had already survived an uprising from cybernetic monks, being patient number zero for a world killing nano robotic plague, and of course the seemingly endless stream of System Security Force cops trying to take down public enemy number one. You know what? I would be smiling too.
But Avery Cates, leads a charmed life, and is, for the lack of a better word, the human equivalent of a cockroach. Hard to find, and even harder to kill-and will most likely survive the end of the world as he knows it. Which may just be right around the corner if he can’t somehow break out of Chengara Prison, and stop the highly evil king worm of the System, Dick Marin, from turning everyone in the world into digitally copied and downloadable cybernetic killing machines.
Jeff Somers weaves another superbly noir drenched, techno-thriller with “The Eternal Prison.” But this time we get to see, to a large extent some of the inner workings of our favorite assassin, more so than in the first two books, we see that Avery Cates, is a very vulnerable and unwilling anti hero, more concerned with revenge than doing the right thing, more concerned with pay backs and pay offs than with anything that resembles a moral imperative. No, Avery Cates is by all accounts a man who you could never trust, nor would you want to associate with, unless of course you have a penchant for getting shot, stabbed, blown up, drunk and beaten to a bloody pulp, in that case-he could be your best friend. Somehow though, Mr. Somers manages to pull the reader along through the trials and tribulations of Avery, making you feel every punch, every explosion and every heavy hearted sigh of resignation. He forces you to fall in love with the man who would rather stab you in the neck for a couple of thousand yen than look at you. Avery Cates, in short, is a man of much complexity and little tact that you can’t help but sympathize with.
Following closer lines than the gap between “The Electric Church” and “The Digital Plague,” this novel takes place immediately after the events of “The Digital Plague,” and teams Avery back up with a few familiar faces from the past again. “The Eternal Prison” however takes a very nice sharp turn, and leads you down new paths, asking questions of the reader, and forcing you to come to terms with higher ideas. It is an anti- authoritarian romp with some very strong social commentary thrown in for good measure, or at least that’s how it seems to pan out. With everything that is going on in the world as we know it, the Avery Cates novels seem to speak volumes to how easily things like hyper inflated economies, nano technology, a techno fascist big brother state far surpassing the evils of the conventional Orwellian blueprint and the continual degradation of the main stream media could easily come to fruition.
Somers again puts some heavy subjects to task, glossing them over with a fresh, gritty, humorous and utterly bleak look at humanity. In my recent review of “The Digital Plague,” here on Flames, I said that this was one of the, if not the best pieces of science fiction that I have read in this last decade. I am at the point, without trying to sound like a complete kiss ass, where I would say that this series is one of the best of this, the brave new 21st century.
There, are certain drawbacks with larger than life claims though, as some of you, those of you that read this who aren’t the authors or publishing companies looking for book inserts, or cover flap quotes, will most likely think that there is a small amount of shilling going on. And I would not blame you. Too good to be true claims, often are just that. But I will issue this challenge to you, prove it. Find me another series of books that moves with this much pace, this much style and wit. Find me another series of books released within the last decade, in this genre, that has this much fun and excitement, with the same amount of thrills and what seems to be the deeply rooted message of the overall, and seemingly never ending hubris of humanity. Prove it, show me. But before you do go get the series and read it, I bet you’ll change your mind.
Review by Eric Pollarine