Tag: psychological thriller

Audiobook Review: Lock In – John Scalzi

Today, I am reviewing Lock In by John Scalzi…. and it’s my first audiobook review in quite some time. Whilst I listen to them most days, I only get to enjoy them in short bursts. As a result, it takes me a little while to finish an audiobook. Then I forget to review them entirely because they are so infrequent. Good plan, neh?

Yeah, not really, but there we are! So, I have a few catch-up reviews to write. Let’s jump straight in!

 

Lock In – John Scalzi

Goodreads – Lock In

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.

 

My Thoughts…

Even though Lock In delves into the realms of science-fiction, it’s an almost plausible reality. A deadly virus attacks the population; millions die and many recover, but an unlucky one per cent lives with “Lock In”. They are stuck in their own bodies and unable to communicate. Technology eventually intervenes and allows those “Locked In” to live a semblance of a normal life via the use of Threeps – essentially, a robot.

After the initial shockwave of the disease sweeps through the population, corporations are quick in recognising that a new market is emerging. Lock In patients need healthcare; there needs to be research into developing a treatment or cure. There’s profit to be made and the corporation wars begin. Things start to get pretty hostile when we get thrown into the narrative.

Agent Shane is one of the most famous Haden’s victims. Through his father’s influence, he became a poster-child for the Threep. Now an adult and keen to make his own way in life, he is assigned to work with Agent Vann in his new job with the FBI. Despite his privilege, Chris Shane is incredibly switched on to the ways of the world. His scepticism and dry wit had me laughing out loud almost constantly. Agent Vann is much the same, if not a little blunter. The duo works so well together that their partnership is effortless and enjoyable to listen to.

 

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome

The storyline and development behind the flu-like virus, how it affected people and the long-term consequences for its victims has been so well thought out! The version of the audiobook I listened to, narrated by Will Wheaton, had a novella tagged onto the end about the entire history of the fictional virus. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives in this novella – it’s composed of reports by various medical professionals and participants of medical trials etc. It had a fresh feel compared to Lock In, which was more consistent in chapter length and narration.

 

Lock In is part sci-fi, part psychological thriller in its narration and execution. It’s a truly enjoyable narrative. I fully anticipate more of John Scalzi’s books landing on my bookshelf, and not just the sequel, Head On…

 

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Blog Tour: Book Review and Giveaway – Psychotopia by R. N. Morris

 

 

Good morning everyone! Today brings my second blog tour post of the month and I am pleased to feature Psychotopia by R. N. Morris. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources; I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –

 

Psychotopia

Goodreads – Psychotopia

Purchase Link – Amazon UK

A game for the times we live – and die – in. Enter Psychotopia, a dark new dystopian novel from the author of the acclaimed Silas Quinn mysteries.

PSYCHOTOPIA, LEVEL ONE. Create your own boutique psychopath, then deceive, manipulate and be ruthless, spreading mayhem and destruction to reach the next levels.

It’s the computer game for our times. After all, the amount of crazy in the world is increasing. Senseless violence on the streets is becoming the norm. Can Dr Arbus’s ground-breaking device identify and neutralize psychopaths before it’s too late? In this increasingly dysfunctional world, surely Callum standing by Aimee after her devastating encounter with Charlie is proof that real love and goodness can still win in a world that’s increasingly rotten . . . Or can it?

 

My Thoughts…

Psychotopia is a work of speculative fiction in which society is filled with psychopaths. The narrative follows select individuals, some psychopathic and some not. Through their lives, we experience the indefinite change in society from our own and consider the consequences.

The perspective that has the most influence on my interpretation of the book is the police officer, Rick. His contributions to the book are primarily retrospective to the main storyline. As he also opens and closes the book with his thoughts on all that has happened. Consequently, the story feels less like the action-packed novel the synopsis indicates it will be and rather more philosophical. It’s not a criticism because I still enjoyed the book and the overall story. It is just told a little differently!

One of the philosophical elements I drew from the book is the influence of games on people’s minds. Can one person’s vision become media that alters another’s perspective? There are numerous debates about possible links between video games and violence. Nothing has been proven though. When a creeper blew up my ground-level spider spawner, I was pretty damn bitter. It was only 50 or so blocks away from base as well! I didn’t get violent as a result though. I have to think Minecraft isn’t quite in the league of Psychotopia, for my own sanity’s sake…

Still, having access to viewing and instigating negative behaviour in games may alter perspective over time. It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument really, but I think about stuff like that. I’m an excellent debater… (at least in my own head).

Unusually, I found that chapters with different characters are written in different persons. I thought it an inconsistency at first, but it is done quite deliberately. I also enjoyed the nuance of chapters about the game development being issued as ‘circulars’. It serves well to break up the narrative and add some informal, conversational (and twisted) ideas into play.

 

Author Bio –

R. N. Morris is the author of ten novels. The latest is PSYCHOTOPIA, published 31 October, 2018.

A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award (as the CWA Gold Dagger was briefly known). A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger.

The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin HouseThe Dark Palace and The Red Hand of Fury. The next novel in the series, The White Feather Killer, will be published in April 2019.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris.

He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @rnmorris

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Psychotopia-298585774308801/

Website: rogernmorris.co.uk

 

Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed Hardback Copy of Pyschotopia (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494205/

 

 

Blog Tour: Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

Today marks the first stop on the blog tour for Life, and Other Dreams by Richard Dee. The tour has been organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and I am delighted to be taking part! I’ve been provided with a copy of the e-book for the purposes of giving an honest review. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts, but first, here is a little about the book: –

 

Life and Other Dreams

Goodreads – Life, and Other Dreams

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK      Amazon US

Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.

In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.

Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.

Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!

 

My Thoughts…

Life and Other Dreams is an extremely approachable sci-fi psychological thriller. I would never have expected the two genres to gel as well as they do. I enjoy sci-fi books, but I confess it is the genre (of those that I “do read”) that I pick up the least. By no means am I a science geek, but that doesn’t matter. The concept of life on another planet and in a different time zone is simple and brilliant.

Two identities. Two completely separate lives. Rick and Dan exist in the other’s dreams – but where do the lines between the subconscious and reality lie? Rick lives a seemingly normal life, but Dan lives on another planet hundreds of years in the future. He and Vanessa are part of a small community colonising the planet, scouting for useful materials. The description of the unique landscape and the advancements in technology imagined are truly fantastic. More importantly to my mind, they are believable. No part of this new world feels forced or farfetched and consequently unimaginable. That can be a real deal-breaker with sci-fi, at least for me. However, I felt as much at home on Ecias as with Rick’s life on humble Earth.

It’s hard to tell if Dan and Rick are their own individual or in fact the same person, just living in different circumstances (or just the other person’s head). Each influences the other. They seem irrevocably bound together, but how or why are the intriguing questions borne from the narrative. This psychological thriller element sets Life, and Other Dreams apart from any other book I have read to date – for all the right reasons!

The pace of the novel and regular changes of perspective keep the narrative fresh. I found myself avidly devouring each chapter, desperate to find out what happens next for each of these men. They each have their own separate struggles in their own worlds, making the conflicts in the plot twice as exciting, and telling myself “just one more chapter” so much easier.

As to what happens next, we’ll just have to wait for the next instalment – Wake Me Up.

 

Author Bio –

Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon. He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.

Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, working as a Marine Insurance Surveyor and as Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.

Richard is married with three adult children and three grandchildren.

His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. Sequels to Ribbonworld and The Rocks of Aserol have been published, together with a second Andorra Pett story, Andorra Pett on Mars. He also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection. Richard is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.

You can find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi