Filler content with a nylon angel

This is one of those weeks when it’s going to be filler content or nothing at all (and probably more of the same next week), so here’s a little something that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #37:-


Orbit pb, 330pp, £6.99

This is billed as the first Parrish Plessis novel and is set in some grim future Australia, where the super-city of Vivacity sprawls all the way down the east coast. Vivacity is neatly divided along economic fault lines, the rich and well to do living in fortress like suburbs while all the rest are dumped together in the middle, an area that roughly resembles the Circles of Hell, albeit nowhere near as prosaic as Dante’s vision, with disease and poverty, crime and gang warfare rife. Top dogs in this milieu are the media, able to defy the police and authorities with impunity. Parrish works for crime lord Jamon Mondo (sex slave would be a more accurate job description) and is desperate to get out from under. To this end she agrees to help two men wanted for the murder of a media superstar, only to find herself in the middle of an even bigger mess as the media tear the city apart in search of ‘justice’ and higher ratings. She also becomes caught up in a war between rival gangs, assimilated into the plans of a messianic figure, discovers that she is a conduit to the voodoo gods and, while I can’t quite place it, I’m pretty sure there’s a kitchen sink in there somewhere.

This is a book with a lot going on but not much happening, and mostly it all seems very familiar, the usual menagerie of badder than bad guys all falling over themselves to prove they can be nastier than the one before, plus assorted double crosses and conspiracies within conspiracies. At bottom this is nothing so much as TV’s Dark Angel, given a voodoo twist and a whiff of sexual violence to flavour. Parrish is your run of the mill heroine with a gift for wisecracks and a brash exterior that hides the inevitable heart of gold, so while running for her life she takes time out to ensure the poor get fed. The forces ranged against her are depicted as well nigh irresistible when it comes to raising the odds but prove all too fallible when the chips are down. The story itself doesn’t quite add up, with plenty of moments of horrendously convenient coincidence, and while the idea of a society where the media rule is potentially interesting little is done to either exploit or explain this situation. We get a few rewarding touches of incidental invention and a couple of memorable characters (sassy chino-shaman Mei Sheong would be my favourite) but overall there’s nothing here to get excited about. It’s all been done before and better.

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