I have been meaning to post a full review of one of Adrez Bergen’s novels for some time now, over a year, actually. Yet, I never seem to be actually doing it. This is not helped by the fact that I have now read three novels by Andrez, all of which I enjoyed immensely. So what am I going to do now, is give you a very quick rundown of each in order of when I read them, starting with:
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a noir, cyberpunk, slightly dieselpunk crime story in best pulp tradition, set in a dystopian near-future Melbourne.The tone and feel of the novel is rather hectic. The protagonist is under pressure the whole time, whether something is happening to or around him or not. Floyd Maquina, the protagonist is a Seeker, somewhat similar to a Blade Runner in the movie of the same name. The further the story develops, the more intricate and real dystopian Melbourne, itself the last city on earth and on the brink of collapse, becomes. Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat features a matrix-like virtual reality, references to good old noir movies and a gripping plot. It is as gritty a read as its setting is gritty. Bonus: If you are into Warhammer 40k, Melbourne in Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat is a very good example of what life in a hive city is like.
100 Years of Vicissitude
100 Years of Vicissitude is as far removed from Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat as you can get without going into full-fledged fantasy. It is neither dirty, noir or gritty. It is a ghost story with a very etherial feel to it.The descriptions of an afterlife, the vistas and Japan itself is stunning, the narrative spans a hundred years or more and there is an actual connection to Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. Also, 100 Years of Vicissitude tells a story by not saying things. A lot of what is going on is left to the reader and I speculate that every subsequent re-reading of the novel will lead to very different reading experience.
And now we come to Andrez‘ masterpiece:
Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa
After two excellent novels by Andrez, I was delighted to find Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa in my inbox one day and devoured it. It is set in the same world as Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (I think), and people flee their harsh reality to a virtual place called Heropa, where some play superheroes, others are normal people, Blandos is what they are called by the heroes.Heropa is Gotham and New York of Silver Age Comics, a gleaming metropolis, somewhere and somewhen between 1920 and 1950. The perfect habitat for a masked and caped hero. But all is also not well in Heropa, the heroes are being killed off one by one although according to some rules, this should not happen. Something is wrong in Heropa.
Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa is a wacky, funny and surprisingly philosophical tale that leaves you wondering if super heroes are actually any good, if non-heroes are worthless and if you should choose virtual reality if the real world gets to unbearable. This novel entertains you immensely and makes you think!
All in all, Andrez Bergen is one of the most versatile storytellers I have had the pleasure to read the work of and I am looking forward to getting my hands on his next work.