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Hive Monkey, by Gareth L. Powell

DETAILS

Title: HIVE MONKEY
Author: Gareth L. Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-1781081662
Genre: SF | Steampunk

BACKCOVER BLURB

In order to hide from his unwanted fame as the spitfire-pilot-monkey who emerged from a computer game to defeat the nefarious corporation that engineered him, the charismatic and dangerous Ack-Ack Macaque is working as a pilot on a world-circling nuclear-powered Zeppelin.
But when the cabin of one of his passengers is invaded by the passenger’s own dying doppelgänger, our hirsute hero finds himself thrust into another race to save the world – this time from an aggressive hive mind, time-hopping saboteurs, and an army of homicidal Neanderthal assassins!

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Mayhem-Monkey does it again, blowing away the cobwebs in a rollicking roller coaster ride to save the world!

Introducing the reader to a new character, writer William Cole—possibly the alter-ego to the actual author?—Powell opens up Hive Monkey with a dash of intrigue that is quickly followed by our first loud explosion worthy of the Mayhem Monkey himself. The author then drops us right into the thick of it and, without missing a beat, catches us up on previous events before taking us on another roller coaster ride. One that involves not only our beloved cast of characters—Vicky, Paul, K8 and Ack-Ack Macaque—but doppelgängers, nano-viruses, parallel worlds, behemoth zeppelins, and yes, even a WWII Spitfire … or two.

Powell doesn’t just tell this story, he deftly weaves it with plenty of break-neck action, enough intrigue to keep us page-flipping, and the usual mayhem we’ve come to expect and enjoy. All the while managing to slip in the odd relevant current event and theory of the day that all make for a thrilling ride. But don’t mistake Hive Monkey for just another fast-paced action-adventure, Powell still has time to give each of his characters a moment to shine, as each chapter unfolds from varying POVs. This allows us to get to the heart of the story, which isn’t just about saving the world, but what motivates us, as individuals: our emotion, our doubts, our fears, and, in turn, highlighting the human condition, which he mirrors through both William Cole’s character (and family) and the monkey himself: Ack-Ack Macaque.

Hive Monkey is a thoroughly immersive rollicking good read, uniquely blending steampunk themes with alternative history, mixed with a liberal dose of wry humour, pathos, and throw away lines that make the Mayhem Monkey rule in every sense of the word.

This is a fantastic read. Don’t miss it!

Rating: 8 / 10

4 Comments

  1. This sounds like an effective mix of action/adventure and speculative fiction, Alex. I also get the sense that Powell uses the story to make some larger points and observations, too, which can really add to the story. Thanks for sharing.

    • You are right there, Margot. This is effective, fun, roller coaster writing, with a lot of wit thrown in to the action-mix. And Powell certainly knows how to make a point while he’s at it. Great fun if you are into reading hybrid SF.

    • Indeed, Norrie, if you love your SF blended with a bit of steampunk, set in an alt future, then the Ack-Ack Macaque series will be right up your dark alley. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series, not just because his characters were well fleshed out, including a cigar-chewing ape! But the writing is pure fun, silly in places in the best possible way, while still talking about a few serious topics while he’s at it.

      You should look him out, Norrie, you might like him!

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