Praise for Alice Bailey biography

I’m truly humbled by all the praise pouring in for my biography of Alice Bailey. Such kind words as these warm my heart.

“This is so much more than a very detailed biography of Alice Ann Bailey; it is also a very comprehensive review of the many interesting groups and people throughout the history of theosophical thought and the continuing impulse of the Ageless Wisdom teachings. At every turn we feel like we are on intimate terms with the lives and events of this span of time, and the overall view is awesome and inspiring.” – Gail Jolley, School for Esoteric Studies.

“Our thanks to Dr Blackthorn for her insights into the life of one of the most influential esoteric teachers of the twentieth century. As scribe for the Tibetan Master, Alice Ann Bailey provided a body of teachings unrivaled in their importance at the dawn of the Aquarian Age.” John F. Nash, PhD www.uriel.com

“A thorough documentation of Blackthorn’s years of dedicated research into Alice Bailey’s life and spiritual output. This book encapsulates the wide-ranging illumination which flowed through Bailey’s life, along with its trials and triumphs. Gaps are filled and misconceptions corrected, which have allowed many a conspiracy theory and error to proliferate. A treasure for the serious student of life in all its dimensions.” – Murray Stentiford, physicist and student of universal human spirituality

“A must-read for any Bailey student, anyone interested in the New Age movement, and for those who wonder, amidst our confused and divided world, where will it all end?“-  Steven Chernikeeff, author of Esoteric Apprentice

“A really enjoyable read! A clear light shining on a very important spiritual scribe of our age, and that to come. The inclusion of historical context gives great flavor and understanding of AAB’s challenging life, and clears up many misunderstandings of her views. An erudite explanation of living theosophy for general consumption – no mean feat!” – Brenton Phillis,  www.heartforchange.net

“As a long time student of the blue books and someone who deeply admires AAB I couldn’t have asked for a better biography. It is all I hope for and more, combining scholarship and heart. A pleasure to read. Many clues are drawn together to provide a fuller picture of AAB. New information is given. Key periods in her life are given new light – such as the Ascona period. Alice Bailey and her writings are made more accessible and put into historic and esoteric context. It is high time the myths and misconceptions about AAB and her writings be dispelled and she takes her place as one of the greatest esoteric thinkers of the 20th Century. Isobel Blackthorn has done a great service to Alice Bailey’s legacy and provided a gateway for a new generation of Alice Bailey students.” – Patrick Chouinard, theosophical scholar and teacher

“This remarkable, deeply researched book on Alice Bailey is a fascinating read for anyone who has an interest in the occult, Theosophy, the origins of the New Age movement, spirituality or the esoteric. Isobel Blackthorn has done an extraordinary job of writing an accessible biography of a unique woman whose ideas and writings have inspired generations, yet remains obscured and half-forgotten in history.” ~ Right Worshipful Master K. Crombie, 18° Freemason.

“This is a remarkable biography for its sheer scope and level of detail, placing Alice Bailey clearly amid her spiritual contemporaries. One of the many strengths of Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy is the way it enables the reader to follow the maturation of Bailey’s teachings, and to witness how through Bailey’s unique spiritual guidance, she arrived at such a large vision for humankind.”  – Maggie Hamilton, author of The Secret World of Fairies

“I don’t think you will find a more thorough and documented treatment of Bailey’s life. Extremely well researched.” Dr Lisa Love

“One of the most fascinating visionaries of the 20th century is Alice A. Bailey, often called the Mother of the New Age Movement. Although her cultural influence has been immense she is still very much vilified and even neglected by academic scholars of Western Esotericism. Hopefully this situation will change with the biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy by Isobel Blackthorn. She is eminently qualified for this difficult task, holding a PhD from the University of Western Sydney for her research on the texts of Alice Bailey. Blackthorn´s study is a treasure trove of new data on the life and work of Alice Bailey, The Arcane School and the many organizations and activities based on her writings. This biography is an important and ground-breaking contribution to our understanding of, not just Alice Bailey, but also the Esoteric Tradition, the third intellectual force or pillar in cultural history alongside science and religion. Isobel Blackthorn is to be commended for an excellent work of interest to all serious students of esotericism.” Håkan Blomqvist, Sweden Librarian and co-founder of Archives for the Unexplained (AFU)

“This biography details the turbulent life of Alice Bailey, the Mother of the New Age. An orphan by the age of eight, living a rigidly disciplined childhood with grandparents, a violent husband, lone parenthood, the struggle for survival, and constant ill health. Hardly a promising start for the woman who brought so much esoteric knowledge to the world through her writing and teaching. Isobel Blackthorn’s thorough research and compelling style present the polarity of experiences of Alice Bailey: admiration and antagonism, leadership and service, devotion and betrayal, and the accumulation of wisdom that underpins, without acknowledgement, much of our modern belief systems. Lovers of enlightenment and esoteric philosophy will treasure this book.” – Veronica Schwarz, author and editor.

“Isobel Blackthorn, does an excellent job of weaving the many threads of Bailey’s life and works into a cohesive, well-written and very readable biography with just the right balance of biographical details and critical discussion around the intellectual, spiritual and theosophical thoughts and tenets that emerged at different points along Bailey’s life journey. The contention around Bailey’s legacy is also addressed and will be of particular interest to specialist readers as will the author’s inclusion of a good range of photos, lists and extensive chapter notes. The book’s subject matter is not for everyone but I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in esoteric thought and/or the subjective nature of spiritual experience in general and in the contribution of Alice Bailey to New Age ideas in particular.” – Carmel Bendon, Scholar in Medieval Literature and Culture

 

Purchase on Amazon here – getbook.at/AliceBaileyBiography

Or through all good booksellers!

 

A Prison in the Sun wins Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist 2020

I am excited to announce A Prison in the Sun, Book 3 in my Canary Islands Mysteries Series, has received the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist award.

I’m over the moon!!

About A Prison in the Sun

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

Find out more here:

https://isobelblackthorn.com/canary-islands-novels/a-prison-in-the-sun/

http://mybook.to/prisonsun

Fuerteventura history

Blackthorn Book Tours book review Central City by Indy Perro

About Central City

Kane Kulpa learned which laws could be bent and which broken after a short stint in prison courtesy of Detective Vincent Bayonne. Bound by time, integrity, and the reality of life in Central City, Bayonne and Kane made peace with the past. Now, gang tension spirals from corrupt to deadly, and a series of murders stresses Kane and Bayonne’s uneasy alliance. Kane balances on a razor’s edge to protect his bar, power, life, and family, and Bayonne hustles to keep another lonely man from being strangled.

Central City is a city struggling for identity. The cops protect the rackets, and the criminals shelter the injured. Innocence is only an appearance, and rage finds a voice.

My Thoughts

 

What makes one man into a successful detective? Or an unsuccessful one?  What makes another man into a crime baron?  Or a monster?  What pushes one woman into prostitution, another into an unhappy marriage?  What drives them? How different are they, really, under the skin?  These are questions that are explored in this novel – part crime noir, part meditation on in human motivation.  Indy Perro doesn’t go for the easy answers, which gives this book a terrific depth of perspective.

At the background of the story there are the lives of the little people – prostitutes, small businesses, their clients, caught up in a turf war between rival crime syndicates.  Perro makes real people out of all of these players, and as the central narrative touches each of them, it is always clear that they have their reasons for the choices that they make, the roles that they take.

In format at least it is police procedural in the crime noir tradition – a dedicated police officer with controversial methods and an unpromising side-kick tries to unmask a serial killer who is haunting the brothels of Central City.  The plot is well worked out, with enough twists and misdirections to keep one interested, but the central “whodunit?” is signposted – albeit indirectly – a little too clearly.  So I guessed the two chief reveals of the story quite a while before they appeared.  There are also moments when the “philosophical points” are made a little too explicitly and feel a bit “preachy”. This is a novel by an academic, and one feels that the author may have a bit too much to prove: he wants to write a crime novel that makes the reader think, and he succeeds in this – but he also wants to write a crime novel that will let the reader know that the writer is a thinker. The book would have been better if he’d worked less hard at that.  Anyone who is interested in such things will work out that the writer thinks deeply and is a wise sort of fellow.

This is a debut novel but it feels like the start of a series – a series that will mellow as the author gains in confidence and will give readers a feast. Whatever else, this is a thoroughly enjoyable example of its genre, and I look forward to more from this talented author.

 About Indy Perro

Indy Perro is a novelist, an independent thinker, and a recovering academic. Indy has a degree in history, graduate degrees in religious studies, comparative literature, and education, and has spent more than a decade teaching philosophy, religious studies, writing, and literature. While continuing numerous side projects and building a career as an author, Indy launched his website, Indyperro.com, to reach a larger audience, an audience interested in the practice of writing. “We’re all in this together. Let’s connect, have a conversation, and engage each other to generate meaning.”

 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Central-City-Indy-Perro/dp/1952258006

Book Review: Of Myth and Shadow by Matthew S. Cox

Book Blurb:

 

Aegaan is a vast and righteous kingdom, yet darkness gathers in the distant corners of the realm. Elven raids on small towns have inflamed racial tensions with humans, pushing distrust to hatred and the brink of war.

Anrael wanders the woods alone until a chance meeting tempts him to set aside his contempt for those who scorn his half-elven blood.

When Kylie, a naive elf terrified of humans, is thrust among them against her will, she begins to question her mother’s tales of dread.

Having lost everything dear to him, the bandit king Jhelan lives only to seek challenge in battle… until he finds himself willing to die protecting that which he hates the most.

The diabolical mystique of the dark elves cloaks L’an Thal’Sara in protection, but the cruelest lie she tells is to herself.

Thaelwyn, a virtuous knight, sets out to discover the source of the Elves’ aggression, but faces a much greater test within his mind.

Beneath the chaos, minions of the Destroyer search for their promised leader, a child possessing power beyond their years. If the innocent falls to darkness, a kingdom rife with hatred will surely crumble.

Purchase links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNYMDCQ  https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Shadow-Cox-S-Matthew/dp/1950738116/

My Thoughts

With a back catalogue running to several pages, a significant fan-base and a solid record of both of standalone novels and series, spanning children’s, young adults’ and adults’ fantasy fiction, Matthew S. Cox hardly needed to make a big statement to persuade the world that he is a major player in this field. But Of Myth and Shadow makes a big statement anyway.
It is his most ambitious project yet. It is a work of enormous depth and breadth that offers a tour de force of the genre. The familiar components are all there – the virtuous kingdom under threat from evil forces; knights, dragons, magic; humans and elves and the tensions between them; the liminal characters who straddle the different worlds and enable them to come together to oppose the powers of darkness; the journey, the quest, the innocent who holds the key. What Matthew Cox adds to this recipe is his perfectly honed skills in building worlds and populating them with intriguing, compelling characters – skills in which he is a consummate craftsman. He weaves this story through the intertwining tales of half a dozen key characters, each with their own plotline, their own journey, and through them we learn the many faces of the kingdom of Aegaan, its politics, its magic and its troubles.
Whether he is introducing an elf or a human or a bandit or a knight he gifts the character with a solidity and a realism that would engage and persuade the most skeptical reader. In other books he has already demonstrated his ability to write convincing young girls, simultaneously vulnerable and powerful, innocent and knowing, and he achieves this again in nine-year-old orphan Serelin.
This isn’t a book for newcomers – weighing in at three or four times the length of his more conventional novels, the sheer size of this work will probably deter anyone who isn’t already sure of the genre or the author. But for fans of this genre , or of Matthew Cox as a writer, this book will doubtless become something of a classic.

About the Author

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, developer of two custom tabletop RPG systems, and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of humanity, reality, life, and what might happen after it.

He is also fond of cats, presently living with two: Loki and Dorian.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewSCoxAuthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

Author Website:  http://www.matthewcoxbooks.com/wordpress/about/

Book Review: Murder in Montague Falls

About Murder in Montague Falls

 

WHITE HOT THRILLS! PITCH BLACK DEEDS!

3 TALES OF TEENS TACKLING THEIR DARKEST RITES OF PASSAGE

Acclaimed storytellers Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas each present an original novella brimming with enough danger, intrigue, and murder to get readers’ blood pounding and hearts racing.

In Colchamiro’s RED INK, a paperboy with an overactive imagination witnesses a brutal killing on his route—or has he taken his fantasy spy games a step too far?

In Hatton’s THE DEVIL’S DELINQUENTS, a trio of teenage misfits in pursuit of success, power, and revenge practice amateurish occult rituals… with deadly consequences.

In Thomas’s A MANY SPLENDID THING, a sultry high school teacher enrolls one of her students to get rid of her husband. But will the young man really graduate to murder?

My Thoughts

These three slick, dark, well-written novellas, by three different authors, are a nice antidote to any sentimental recollection one might have about the joys of being a teenager.

The first is a story about a troubled boy engrossed in an improbable fantasy world that becomes tangled in the mirror of an equally improbable real world. The second tells a chilling tale of three youngsters throwing themselves into Satanism.  The third draws its violent action from a desperately misplaced and dangerous affair between a teacher and a pupil.

All are based in the same town, which neatly ties the three novellas into a single volume, although the action of the three stories is unrelated, occurs in different time periods, and the town itself doesn’t feature in any significant way as a unifying “character” across the three stories. I’d have liked it if it had done – I felt that closer collaboration in this project by the three authors could have allowed more capital to be drawn from the one-town-three-stories device.

This is a side-grumble however, because actually the stories hang well together and do have a coherence that makes the reading experience an intense and unified one.  What ties them together is the deeper preoccupation about adolescence that broods through all of them.  Adolescence isn’t generally a fun time, fraught as it generally is with unmanageable yearnings, anxiety and disfiguring pimples.  These stories capture well that adolescent universe in which the possibilities of the adult world suddenly gape open, alluring, contemptible and terrifying in equal measure; in which friends are all important and one’s whole identity pivots on precarious social networks whose group imperatives can overwhelm. To shine these tensions through the prism of ‘noir’ or ‘horror” is appropriate – both are genres that tap into the residual adolescent in all of us – and the outcome is a memorable splash of darkness.”

 

ABOUT THE THREE AUTHORS

Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking time travel/space adventure, Crossline, the SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the SF mystery anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, and co-author of the noir anthology Murder in Montague Falls, all with Crazy 8 Press.

He is now finalizing Crackle and Fire, the first in a new scifi mystery series featuring his intergalactic private eye, Angela Hardwicke, set for publication September 2020.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, Badass Moms, and Brave New Girls.

Russ is repped by The Zack Compnay.

For more on and Russ’s books, you can visit http://www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor.

 

Sawney Hatton

 

Sawney Hatton is an author, editor, and screenwriter. Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended all-night film festivals, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He loves a good day trip into the unknown.

To learn more about Sawney, visit his website at SawneyHatton.com

 

Patrick Thomas

Patrick Thomas writes the beloved fantasy humor series Murphy’s Lore, and  wrote the graphic novel Case of the Moon Maniac and the steampunk themed As The Gears Turn. His short stories have been featured in over fifty anthologies and more than three dozen print magazines.
A number of his books were part of the props department of the CSI television show and one was even thrown at a suspect. Fairy With A Gun was optioned by Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Act of Contrition, a story featuring his Soul For Hire hitman is in development for a short film by Top Men Productions.

Drop by http://www.patthomas.net to learn more.

 

A warm thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book!

Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy acquired by Shooting Star Press

I am thrilled to announce my full biography of Alice A. Bailey has just been acquired by Shooting Star Press! 

This comes after many weeks of turbulence as the original edition released on 7 May 2020 was withdrawn from sale. The matter that caused the withdrawal has been resolved. I had thought of self-publishing but then endured a tiresome few weeks waiting for the manuscript to be properly formatted. Sometimes, such difficulties and delays have a fated feel and when Cath Brinkley of Shooting Star Press took a keen interest in my book, I felt a corner had been turned.

I couldn’t be happier. Shooting Star Press are a Canberra-based publisher who will make sure Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy finds its way into the hands of readers worldwide.

The new cover will be revealed next week and preorders available soon. Join my mailing list to stay in touch or my Facebook group dedicated to this remarkable woman and mother of the New Age movement.

Book Review: Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg

How far would you go to make your dreams come true? For budding writer and filmmaker Noah Spaeth, being a Production Assistant in director Dominick Bambach’s new avant-garde film isn’t enough. Neither is watching Dominick have an affair with the lead actress, the gorgeous but troubled Nevie Wyeth. For Noah’s dream is to get both the film and Nevie in the end, whatever the cost. And this obsession may soon become a reality once Dominick’s spurned wife Isadora reveals her femme fatale nature with a seductive plot to get rid of her husband for good. Slow Down, a cross between the noir styling of James M. Cain and the dark satire of Bret Easton Ellis, is a thrilling page-turner that holds a mirror up to a media-saturated society that is constantly searching for the fastest way to get ahead, regardless of consequences.

My Thoughts

Slow Down is a fast-paced thriller written as though memoir from the perspective of protagonist and wannabe writer and film director Noah Spaeth. He’s about twenty-six looking back on events of four years prior and how he came to create his debut film Slow Down. Set in Manhattan, Slow Down depicts a privileged, entitled, pretentious and extremely decadent social milieu, mostly centred in the film industry. Debauchery and drug-taking abound in this behind-the-scenes exposé that focusses on the lengths a director will take to capture a great scene, produce a great movie.

Noah opens his tale by explaining how he came to meet the obnoxious Adonis Dominick Bambach, the original creator and director of the movie Slow Down, a movie then in genesis. Dominick is also a manufacturer of the designer drug Fast. This drug, akin to methylamphetamine, soon takes up stage centre when Noah becomes Dominick’s assistant. As he is drawn into his mentor’s world, he finds himself appalled, frustrated and challenged. He comes to loathe Dominick as much as fear him. And then he decides he is capable of creating a much better movie. Arrogant, cruel, out-of-control and almost deranged, Dominick tests Noah’s loyalty and as he does, Noah becomes more and more disillusioned. From there, the narrative descends into increasingly extreme and bizarre acts. The pace quickens in the second half of the novel, the final twist unexpected and arresting, one of those moments that make you want to start back at the beginning to figure out who was justified in doing what.

The architecture of this story is impressive. There is nothing to fault in the plotting and pacing. Written in punchy, upbeat and acerbic prose, Goldberg nails the voice of a washed-up, drugged-up young film director, a style that is self-mocking, self-contemptuous and self-justifying by turns. Stories like Slow Down are not easy to construct; Goldberg is to be commended and displays himself as a formidable literary talent.

Slow Down is ultimately a disturbing morality tale and a meditation on truth, deception and corruption.

About Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.

Website – Leematthewgoldberg.com

FB – https://www.facebook.com/leemgol

IG – https://www.instagram.com/leematthewgoldberg/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LeeMatthewG

Book Review: The Girl Who Found the Sun by Matthew S. Cox

About The Girl Who Found the Sun

It started with the insects.

The mass die-offs had been a warning unheeded. Before society realized the danger, the Earth had inexorably begun a transformation into a place where life could not survive. A small group found shelter in the Arc, an underground refuge safe from the toxins ravaging the surface.

After centuries of darkness, humanity’s second chance is running out—and Raven Wilder knows it.

Her job fixing the machinery in the Arc makes her aware of how close everything is to breaking down. When the systems fail, the last survivors of the human race will suffocate in the tunnels meant to protect them from the deadly air outside—starting with the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, in an example of history repeating itself, those in charge dismiss her concerns.

When her six-year-old begins showing signs of oxygen deprivation, Raven refuses to go quietly into oblivion.

She will break every rule to keep her daughter alive.

My Thoughts

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi offering opens in the bowels of the Arc, a failing underground community where electrical engineer Raven Wilder attempts to repair yet more decrepit wiring. It’s an essential role and it’s never ending. The Arc needs electricity to power the air scrubbers. There’s a hydroponic farm processing CO2 to help maintain oxygen levels. Everyone is told no one can go up and outside; conditions are much too toxic with flesh-eating vapours. It’s a bleak setting, yet Raven’s father told her stories of his trips outside, stories of what he saw and found. Raven is curious to know if what he said is true. Meanwhile, numbers are down in the human population who are struggling to survive and procreate. With only 183 remaining, there are concerns over inbreeding. Everyone wears rags as no one knows how to make clothes; the skill has been lost. If something doesn’t change, they are doomed. When her young daughter Tinsley suffers symptoms of hypercapnia, Raven decides to act.

As I’ve come to expect with Matthew S. Cox, the writing is clean, the narrative fast-paced, the world-building plausible and lean. He manages to make even the most mundane and tedious of tasks – fixing wiring – gripping, and he avoids the ‘telling’ trap, showing his readers the dystopian reality he has constructed and offering minimal explanations. Cox has crafted a powerful and independent protagonist in Raven appealing to all readers. I sense a touch of Alien without the hideous monster, and can’t help picturing Sigourney Weaver in the lead role.

The Girl Who Found the Sun will appeal to young adult readers and adults alike, another corker from a master storyteller.

About Matthew S. Cox

Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.

His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.

Links

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Found-Sun-ebook/dp/B082H3B9T1/

Twitter: @Mscox_Fiction / https://twitter.com/mscox_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewSCoxAuthor

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mscox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/matthewcox10420/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7712730.Matthew_S_Cox

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscox.author/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Book Review: Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter

About Auxiliary: London 2039

London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.

Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.

Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror.

My Thoughts

Auxiliary opens with hard-boiled detective Carl Dremmler who arrives at the seen of a death in a London flat. The body is that of Shawn Ambrose, an unemployed roboticist and AltWorld addict who became so sucked into the virtual reality AltWorld affords he forgot to eat. Ambrose had succumbed to ‘disengagement’, a condition in which the addict neglects their own body, dying of thirst, malnutrition or disease. This initial scene introduces the reader to TIM, a single interface referred to as the Time Imagination Machine, technology that covers every aspect of online experience, from shopping and gaming to opening an apartment door. TIM is an operating system that combines Google with Windows and Netflix and everything else out there, the AltWorld it offers making real life obsolete, for the likes of Ambrose. Dremmler himself is intensely critical of TIM and wary of the power it holds, and he hankers for the past, or rather, a part of his past he wishes he could undo.

When Dremmler is called to the case of a gruesome murder, he is faced with an impossible conundrum. Did the accused boyfriend Conor McCann smash his girlfriend’s face into a brick wall of their apartment, or was it his robotic arm that had somehow developed a dark will of its own? At first no one believes McCann’s claim, except Dremmler’s colleague Petrovic. The only way to discover if McCann is telling the truth is to extract the microchip implanted in his brain.

The plot thickens as Dremmler is forced to deal not only with the murder of Letitia Karlikowska, but also with the whereabouts of pretty young AWOL robot Cynthia Lu and a 3D-printed killer louse, in what at first seems like a wild goose chase. Meanwhile, Dremmler is plagued by flashbacks of his deceased daughter Natalie, and he ignores calls from his ex-wife Tessa. Slowly this subplot intertwines with the central investigation in what can only be described a literary tour de force. The ending is breathtakingly action-packed with twist after twist, leaving the reader reeling by the end.

The futuristic reality Richter has created in Auxiliary is rich and believable and immersive. The author deftly lures the reader into his story-world with considerable finesse and a healthy dollop of wit. Robots are everywhere, as housemaids, bar staff, doctors – medbots – and receptionists, dominating, through service, every aspect of everyday life. Cars have been replaced with pods. Robotics is stage centre and largely amoral, although throughout the novel there is a large question mark over TIM. This nagging sense of the possibility of robotic autonomy underpins the narrative and is the lynch pin of Auxiliary‘s noir feel. A secondary and equally prominent critique, conveyed through Dremmler’s observations – and one the author no doubt harbours of our contemporary globalised society – is the great divide of wealth and poverty manifest in Auxiliary: London 2039. The inclusion of The Farm, where maverick and bankrupt roboticist Owen Fox leads a community of rebellious outsiders who have shunned technology, rounds out Richter’s dystopia.

The writing is sharp and taut. Solid pacing with unexpected plot twists and carefully inserted backstory that doesn’t drag on the narrative, all satisfy the thriller genre. The early part of the narrative benefits from Richter’s black humour. As the tension builds, this humour gives way to gripping action scenes and atmospheric descriptions of settings. The protagonist is well-rounded and satisfyingly flawed. Vivid characterisations of cameo roles add colour and vibrancy. Dremmler’s reflections and evaluations of the world he is forced to live in are also very well-executed.

Auxiliary will appeal to fans of straight ahead noir thrillers as much as those with an appetite for the futuristic. There is no doubt in my mind Jon Richter has penned a novel Iain Banks would be proud of. Auxiliary belongs in that stable of classy futuristic noir that only a British author can pen.

If you’re an Iain Banks fan, you’ll love Jon Richter. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084P8JZ3K/

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. Her dark fiction includes The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks