Thursday, June 17, 2010

avery cates returns in jeff somers' dystopian world of the eternal prison

Avery Cates, the eternal assassin of Somers' dystopian future world, is back and this time he's locked up. Well, he's been locked up again, but it won't stop him getting out and getting revenge.
Lovers of apocalyptic science fiction were introduced to Cates in Somers first two books – The Electric Church and The Digital Plague – alongside a motley crew of cloned world leaders, humans with their brains replaced by a computer consciousness and the dregs of a world slowly back-sliding into the Dark Ages.
Somers' work has been raved about by critics, pundits, reviewers and readers alike, his ability to portray a world we all shy from, but can clearly identify with, gives one the shivers.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper describes his writing as 'An action movie in print', and it's a remarkably astute description. Somers' books are fast-paced, tightly written, believable (in their own way) and peopled with characters that we know – or at least have read about in the news.
The world of these books is one that's been taken over by a variety of never-ending wars and skirmishes, by global corporations controlling the world's food supply, by an underclass of criminals from Russia and Asia and a police force that's more thug than 'Bobby' on the beat.
There is widespread poverty, disease and death. People 'augment' themselves with mechanical and genetic additions or take gene-therapy drugs to stop man-made diseases. Everyone is out for themselves and almost no one cares what the world has come to.
Avery Cates is a street killer, a man who is consistently amazed that he's managed to survive as long as he has in the broken down streets of New York, a crumbling city in an America that's long lost it's ability to care for its people. Sound familiar?
Technology continues to exist for those with the money and the connections, and it's developed into something truly awful – people can now be 'downloaded' into a massive server and then 'uploaded' into a robot form. Only sometimes, not all of them comes back.
As The Eternal Prison opens, Cates is being rounded up with other unsavoury types to be shipped off to the worst prison in what is already a hideously brutal prison system. Only, for some reason, he really doesn't care.
Cates has switched off; he kind of wishes he was dead already, and is really just waiting for someone to kill him. Thankfully – for his fans – his doesn't happen and Cates gets mixed up in a prison break, an attempt to assassinate the globe's nominal ruler and something odd with weird, little old man.
The Eternal Prison has a couple of disjointed sections that are a bit odd in the first third of the novel – it appears as though you're reading a flashback, with Cates doing something completely different from the previous chapter.
However, this is just a teaser to the twist in the plot that comes along towards the end – from there on, it all makes sense and seems so terribly obvious.
Once again, Somers has succeeded in delivering a fantastic sci-fi, action thriller with enough resonance to current times that you'll have no trouble believing in his dark future.
While it's best if you've read the first two books, there's enough back story to allow readers to know what's going on; but really, get the other two first, you'll enjoy the nuances of The Eternal Prison much more.

The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers is published by Orbit Books and is available from good book stores and online.


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