Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Book Review: Fathers and Sons: Blackguard Book one by Edward R. Morris
Fathers and Sons: Blackguard (Book one) By Edward R. Morris
The Borgo Press (Wildside books)
I am a sucker for many things this novel does well. Blackguard does not fit in to one speculative fiction subgenre perfectly but what it does is blend a lot of them together. Edward Morris is an extremely well read genre writer. He wears his influences on his sleeves like patches sewn on on punk rock leather jacket. What we end up with is an edgy novel that is not quite cyberpunk, military sci-fi, First Contact story or distopia. It is all those things and more.
Written in the similar non-traditional structure as Brunner Classic “The Sheep Look Up,” don't expect they same tired tropes of sci-fi structure. It is the story of several characters who lives are somewhat connected by the mile long uber dance club that future downtown Portland Oregon has been turned into. Sean Mallory is our primary character and after being upgraded mentally and physically by the military creates a new life for himself by starting a team of bouncers called the blackguards. It is their job to secure a dance club the size and scope of which is beyond anything we know.
One of the best characters of the novel Kano is a man Mallory met in the japan during a future war, Mallory also has a son who is fascinated by the life his dad leads as a bouncer. Character wise we learn a lot about Mallory philosophy of bouncing which is informed by experience and eastern philosopher. This suggests a direction in the future books in the series, Mallory likes samurai books and The Art of War.
Morris forces you to get to know the characters before he includes us in on the future history, he avoids the traditional science Fiction disease of “info-dumping” by spending 78 pages building the world. So don't expect this new world to be dumped in your lap. The strangest part is a subplot about first contact with extra terrestrial species that has been watching us.
Morris appears to hiding the direction of the next books in plain sight. The Aliens have arrived but it doesn't seem to be much of a big deal at first. Is this an author slight of hand? This appears to be one of few weaknesses of the novel, the non traditional structure might turn off some readers. I hope not the The characters are strong and the action is exciting.
Morris is a gifted writer that never wastes a word. This brilliant work blurs the many sub-genres of speculative fiction in to a potent cocktail. A work of high literature that explores characters forced into the chaos of an all to possible future. A punk touch on a gritty style makes this novel a MUST-read. Portlanders take note this novel is very much about the rose city.