True Review
Current Issue Number 79 Vol. 22 January 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Flashback

FLASHBACK:

FLASHBACK, by Dan Simmons. Reagan Arthur: Little Brown (www.hachettebookgroup.com), 2011, 554 pp., $27.99. ISBN 978-0-316-00696-5

In lesser hands, the drug called “flashback” would be a mere gimmick. The premise of FLASHBACK: a drug that allows you to re-experience, in great detail, the best – or the worst – of your memories. What would be the inevitable result? Well, many legions of addicts, for one thing.

And what would the world be like?

But this is Simmons, after all.

Enter Hiroshi Nakamura, world-renowned multibillionaire. The murder of his son, Keigo, haunts him. He knows the prime investigator was (formally, recently fired) First Detective Nick Bottom, Denver Police Department and hopeless Flashback addict. Keigo was preparing a “minor” film documentary of the hazards of Flashback addiction, killed during a private party, and Nakamura will pay almost any price to bring the killer to justice. Who did it? Was it Hideki Sato, Nakamura’s security chief?

Nakamura gives Bottom an offer that he can’t refuse: unlimited amounts of the illegal Flashback drug to find additional evidence to point to a murderer. Was the killer tied to the girlfriend sharing a brief moment in time before the killing? Could the killer be someone close to Nakamura? Could it be Sato?


In this world, the United States is divided into “zones of terror” that leave many in the U.S., now broke and powerless, to combat, with a U.S. in bankruptcy and the Japanese (and some Chinese) companies the most powerful in the world, controlling many U.S. interests. There are the “Hajji, AB, reconquista, flashgangs, the anarchist syndicate, spanic militias, anglo militias, Black Muslims, Nuevo cartels, local cartels, Posse Comitatus, draft dodgers, aggrieved veterans, New Caliphate infiltrators,” on the mind of Bottom.

Early on in the book there is a scene where Nick’s father, worrying about the fate of his flashgang grandson. Nick’s father is playing chess with a powerful leader of Nuevo Mexico. The leader tells Nick’s father, Leonard, about Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE, and how it was not meant to be a novel, asking him to write an epilogue that talks about “forces in history (that) act beyond human reason, that none of us are free but consciousness creates in each of us the illusion of freedom and free will, that since free will is an illusion, history must find its true laws, and even personality depends upon time, space, emotion, and causality.” (page 56).

Those thoughts remind me of themes of ALL of Simmons books – what is free will? Free will is directed by all of the above, and then by those who wield power, supernatural or not. Or maybe supernatural with a little help from the pharmacist.

Simmons plays upon memory, and the reliance on memory to guide our happiness, our sacrifices, our lives.

Andrew Andrews

 

In This Issue

SUPERVOLCANO ERUPTION FLASHBACK Click on book cover for review. The Astounding, The Amazing, By Malmont FUTURE MEDIA

Urban Fantasy Blood and Other Cravings The Haunting of 20th Century America Ghosts by Gaslight A Pleasure to Burn

The Gift A Dublin Student Doctor   The Price of Civilization The Deception at Lyme

Next Time In True Review
Realms of Fantasy - Aug. 2011

REALMS OF FANTASY:

REALMS OF FANTASY, August 2011. Damnation Books (www.rofmag.com), $5.99.

There’s a great essay in here about “Women in Fantasy: The Images, the Artists” with illustrations of some of the best. The essay looks into the “urban fantasy babe” and her predecessor, the “woman warrior.” A sexist image? Some of the best illustrators are included, with Virginia Lee and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

Andrew M. Andrews
Realms of Fantasy - Oct. 2011

REALMS OF FANTASY:

REALMS OF FANTASY, October 2011. Damnation Books (www.rofmag.com), $5.99.

Another great illustrator interview with (and profusely illustrated by) Ruth Sanderson, conducted by Karen Haber. Check this out!

Andrew M. Andrews
Deed To Death - cover

SAINTS ASTRAY:

SAINTS ASTRAY, by Jacqueline Carey. Grand Central Publishing (www.HachetteBookGroup.com), 2011, 356 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-0-446-57142-5

Loup and girlfriend Pilar escape from military custody to be high-priced bodyguards for a British rock band. But they can’t leave their past behind – including their chance to stay in Outpost 12, a Texas border town, and bring out those they have abandoned.

Andrew M. Andrews
No Rest for The Dead - cover

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME:

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME, ed. by Michael Sims. Penguin (us.penguingroup.com), 2011, 340 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-0-14-310621-0

Michael Sims, editor of the PENGUIN BOOK OF GASLIGHT CRIME, brings together a wealth of authors to showcase the work of some great crime-fighters that could compete with Holmes and other classic sleuths.

Andrew M. Andrews
Promises To Keep - cover

MIRROR MAZE:

MIRROR MAZE, by Michaele Jordan. Pyr/Prometheus (www.pyrsf.com), 2011, 368 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-1-61614-529-3

Jacob Aldridge is the victim of a curse, beginning with the death of his fiancée, encountering her doppelganger, all the while a demon stalks him, and draws others close to him into the dangers that await.

Andrew M. Andrews
Eyes to See

EYES TO SEE:

EYES TO SEE, by Joseph Nassise. Tor (www.tor-forge.com), 2011, 319 pp., $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2718-5

The story of a classics professor who, desperate to find out why his young daughter disappears, performs an arcane ritual that robs him of his eyesight in order to “see that which is unseen.” His new powers allow him to do some great things for people but also send him up against a terrible force that could cost him his own life, as well as that of others.

Andrew M. Andrews
Thomas World

THOMAS WORLD:

THOMAS WORLD, by Richard Cox. Night Shade Books (www.nightshadebooks.com), 2011, 396 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-308-3

Almost Philip K. Dick-like, the protagonist in this book, Thomas, sees his life spinning out of control. He believes that his life has been scripted, perhaps by his own doppelganger-like soul, watching him . . . why?

Andrew M. Andrews

Next Time In True Review

THE MAGNIFICIENT MEDILLS, by Megan McKinney. HarperCollins (www.harpercollins.com), 2011, 456 pp., $27.99. ISBN 978-0-06-178223-7

NEWSPAPER TITAN: THE INFAMOUS LIFE AND MONUMENTAL TIMES OF CISSY PATTERSON, by Amanda Smith. Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf (www.aaknopf.com),
2011, 716 pp., $37.50.

KAFKAESQUE, Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, ed. by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly. Tachyon (www.tachyonpublications.com), 2011, 284 pp., $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-61696-049-0