GEOFF DAVIES. The chasm between the society we are offered and the fair go we want | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

There is widely perceived to be a gap between our stumbling political system and the wishes of the Australian people. However those who look a little deeper into our Australian hearts see not just …

Source: GEOFF DAVIES. The chasm between the society we are offered and the fair go we want | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy

July 21 was publication day for this book.  I read an electronic ARC in May, and I need to read the final version.  I know the book has changed, and I want to know where, and how.  I sense the influence of the Department of Smoke …..

The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy

‘You are the best stock this Phoenix Cycle could hope to reap!’

Picture this.  The world has been ravaged by storms of ash and debris.  Only one city has survived: New San Francisco.  New San Francisco has survived because it is ruled by the General.  He has ensured that the people of New San Francisco understand that there is no room for weakness, no room for pity.  The city is ruled by the Inner Circle, and Steve and Leslie have a chance to join that Inner Circle.  It’s a once in a life chance to apply, and if they don’t they’ll be condemned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg.

There is another possibility.  There is opposition to the General.  A revolutionary army, known as the IRA, led by a voice known as ‘Mom’ is trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco.  Steve will choose one path, and Leslie the other.

What follows is an interesting and busy dystopian tale.  The IRA wants a famous philosophical speech broadcast.  Many will die trying to do this, but is anyone listening?  The novel follows the main characters in a world that has been largely destroyed by the effects of environmental disasters and war, where the government keeps most people in a captive virtual reality.  There’s not enough detail to work out how all this happened, but there’s enough connection to the current world to make much of it believable.

A dystopian environment with philosophical characters –  there are several aspects to this story.  It’s not a straightforward narrative: some aspects are delivered by journal entries and broadcasts.

I’ll need to reread this novel.  I wonder whether the Department of Smoke has been able to exert any influence over the final manuscript?  I know that the version I read is not the final version…

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Bob Collopy for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Dark Chemistry by Catherine Lee

Dark Chemistry by Catherine Lee

‘It was a cool day for early February in Sydney, but Charlie Cooper didn’t mind a bit.’

Detective Charlie Cooper and his partner Detective Senior Constable Joe Quinn are called to Macquarie Fields in south-western Sydney.  A man’s body has been found in a local park.  He’s been fatally stabbed, and while it could be a mugging gone wrong, Charlie Cooper isn’t sure.  Cooper and Quinn quickly determine that the murdered man worked at a nearby pharmaceutical company, Lighthouse Pharmaceuticals, where his uncle is the CEO. Lighthouse manufactures vaccines, and has attracted a group of anti-vaccination protesters.  The protesters have been there for over a month, but they’ve been peaceful.  So far.  The pharmaceutical company is also working on a weight loss pill, and apparently early tests have been encouraging.

The scene is set for an intriguing police investigation, as well as an exploration of pro and anti-vaccination views.

One of the most interesting characters in this novel is Leo McCarthy.  Leo has Asperger’s which impacts on how he processes information and communicates, but not on what he observes.  Leo works with Ellie Cook, herself a central character.  If I tell you more about the story, I’ll inadvertently spoil it.

This is the fourth novel in Ms Lee’s Dark series, and it is every bit as satisfying as the first three.  Ms Lee combines action and controversy, as well as providing well developed characters to propel the story forward.  I enjoy the way in which the story unfolds: characters are deftly introduced with just enough information to gauge who they are and where they might fit in.  There are several different strands within the story: both possibilities and (perhaps) a red herring or two.  And Charlie Cooper, his family and Joe Quinn continue to develop.

I finished this novel satisfied (mostly) with the ending, but immediately wanting the next instalment.  Book 5 is ‘coming soon’, according to Ms Lee’s website.  If you’ve not previously read any books in this series, I strongly recommend starting at the beginning.  While the story is self-contained and can be read as a standalone novel, the Cooper and Quinn backstory is important.  Trust me.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith