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  • By Kim Bailey
    Dec 8, 2010
    Something written by John Dean; Prescripted Addendum: June 4th, 2009: The text below is pretty much the same as that put up [...] a year and half ago. Having since read and enjoyed Valkyrie II: Operation Sceptre gives me cause to pause and take stock: the book left an impression on me, such that I expect to be able to dial into networks with my mind, effortlessly carry out absurd feats of strength and endurance, or to pick up the newspaper and read about the Java Campaign. My "reality" has been just a little bit messed with--this is what Enlightenment-era intellectuals warned us would happen when people began reading novels! It's unusual that you carry part of a book around with you, even long after you've physically put it down. My advice from back then remains: it's a great read--read it! ________________________________________ Reading Valkyrie by Kim C. Bailey is, first and foremost, a real pleasure. The book manages to do what many works try and fail at: to be a real... More > page turner, a ripping yarn where each development in the story makes you want to read on hurriedly further to find out what happens next. It's quite simply hard to put down once you start. Valkyrie is a text that shows the impact of the cyberpunk ethos. It is taken as a given that the "Synthetics" in the story perceive the world differently from "Norms", that they tap into data networks and communicate with one another in ways that defy our day to day imagination. Yet here, as in other places in the book, the novel does exactly what was "nouvelle" when this form of literature first came into being three centuries ago: to immerse the reader into the psychological being of the characters, to make them real and immediate. "Comm." chatter and tactical updates, internal GUIs presenting themselves in the Synthetic's sensorium...all this becomes part of the reality the reader accepts as being "how things are" at the end of the 21st century. The term Subcreation comes to mind, sometimes used in connection with Middle Earth or Star Wars. In these fictional universes, there is no irony about the reality that surrounds the characters and draws in the reader/viewer. It feels real. In even a below-par Star Wars movie, one groans at the acting or writing that should have been better...which is taking place with the very real and immediate Star Wars universe. The subcreation was successful, standing beyond question, no matter how dramatically unsatisfying or inconsistent every scene with Jar Jar Binks may have been -- a real alien on real alien worlds who really buggers up the movie. Subcreated then, is the world of the Nuclear Brigade -- atomic powered soldiers who are a blending of robot body and the mind of a dying flesh-and-blood soldier. The politics and world events of a larger universe beyond their control surround them; the age-old social stigma of being different cannot be escaped. It is very much a war story, or, better yet, a detective story that plays at the edge of a great international conflict which is only briefly at rest. Is the universe that the heroine moves through a Hegelian dialectic, a place of absolutes? It seems so at first. But over the course of the novel, chinks in her armour appear. The hard wall Valkyrie has built up in the course of decades of fighting a ruthless enemy is not brought down, but deconstructed for a time, in her interaction with the perversely misanthropic technician Burns. The soldiers of the Nuclear Brigade have real problems, face discrimination from society and from family. Greater strength and immortality seem to be wonderful gifts, but it becomes readily apparent that being a superman isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Valkyrie's perfection is deceiving. The layers of fast-talking irreverence for everything which she has built up over the decades are slowly peeled back in the face of unexpected adversity. She's forced to call into question most everything about herself and the world she so cocksure operates within. Her transformation (back) into something just a little more vulnerable and more human is cathartic and powerful. Read the book! It'll grab you, and pull you into a new and exciting universe of heroism and speculative fiction, of dramatic reversal and thought-provoking disjuncts with the everyday. Like good science fiction does, it may even move you to look at the world around you with new eyes. John Dean< Less
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Product Details

Final (Expanded) Edition
November 28, 2011
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.95 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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