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review 2020-01-20 22:07
"Power is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac..."
Lawless Justice - Karina Kantas

I thank Henry Roi PR for providing me an electronic copy of this novel, originally published in 2008, which I freely chose to review. This has in no way influenced my review.

 

This was my introduction to the work of Karina Kantas and notwithstanding the pace of the novel has much in common with a thriller, the underlying commentary on themes such as gang culture, knife crime, social identity and power lent the book some interesting depth, made all the more intriguing by the use of a mainly female cast of characters.

 

Cass is escaping a longstanding abusive relationship, which began shortly after leaving school and culminated in her isolation from family support. The attendant violence also coloured the young woman’s attitude to physical harm and hardened her resolve not to be a victim. However, when Cass is the subject of a random attack after a night out, she is rescued by the ‘Kittnz’, a gang of five female bikers, led by the indomitable ‘Raven’, and recruited (via a brutal initiation) to join their select gang. Part of the appeal for Cass, soon re-named ‘Ice’, is their flamboyance, “all loudly dressed in similar leather outfits; beautiful women who looked like glamorous rock chicks…” but more importantly, “the fear and respect they created was intoxicating.” In fact, Cass was won over long before the full implications of her commitment were known, any reticence leached away by her desire to join their ‘sisterhood’ and to be feared, it was sufficient to know that the gang’s activities were ‘rewarding and justified’.

 

The journey to a sense of liberation, self-esteem and empowerment are mainly observed through the experience of the newest recruit and the pent-up anger within ‘Ice’ and her desperation to be accepted, finds her capable of extreme violence. The raison d’etre of the Kittnz is allegedly to ‘do over’ people who overstep the mark. However, the clandestine nature of their existence insists that they each work in outlying towns (their professional personas - lawyer, doctor, journalist, psychoanalyst also providing a useful skill-mix), only venturing into Northampton in the guise of their alter-egos. The choice of a fairly nondescript provincial town made me smile, but I imagine was deliberate and perhaps enabled the Kittnz to enjoy the exaggerated rep’ that might go with swimming in a smaller pond. But, the tentative democracy underlying the gang’s activities is quickly exposed by the iron control exerted by ‘Raven’ and the expected sacrifice of family, friends and private life. The lifestyle upside of belonging, clothes, money, drugs and disinhibition are well described by the author, but so too is the price to be paid. I read with almost morbid curiosity the new depths of depravity that the gang might plumb to sustain their reputation. What started out with almost moral zeal, delivering a modest form of ‘justice’ for those let down by the system, quickly deteriorates into an escalating, toxic cycle of violence infecting the gang members and the corruption on which they depend. This is most clearly evidenced in the trajectory of ‘Ice’, raised high on her carefully nurtured resilience and her lust for fearsome power, ultimately, in a sad symmetry, subjugated to the will of her waning leader and a bigger, more ruthless male gang. A rather tragic victim transformed into an abuser and then a victim of another hue.

 

The take away from this book is perhaps that vigilantism is flawed, not by the gender of the vigilante, but the absence of transparent authority. However, the slightly implausible premise is nonetheless well handled by Ms Kantas and the story well-told. On this showing I look forward to reading more of her novels in future.

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review 2018-12-10 21:13
Rattling SF: “The Affirmation” by Christopher Priest
The Affirmation - Christopher Priest



“Living is not an art, but to write of life is. Life is a series of accidents and anticlimaxes, misremembered and misunderstood, with lessons only dimly learned. Life is disorganized, lacks shape, lacks story.”

In “The Affirmation” by Christopher Priest




A Priest book isn't just a (SF) book. It is the distilled essence of a philosophy, a memoir; a piece of someone's soul. Losing the book is losing that element. On a more mundane level, it is also a memory - I read a book when I was about 7 (a proto-choose-your-own-adventure thing) that I've fitfully searched for ever since and never found, and doing so would put me right back on my nan's sofa on a Saturday afternoon with the wrestling on.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-10-28 13:46
Philosophy in the Bedroom: "The 120 Days of Sodom" by Marquis de Sade
The 120 Days of Sodom - Marquis de Sade

(Original Review, 2008)

 


Personally,I think the way to understand De Sade is as a global pioneer in the art of trolling. His actual sexual acts were fairly tame in the broad scheme of things - 15 year-old servants, but people were getting married at that age in his time. As far as history records, his actual practical sexual tastes didn't extend much further than a little light flagellation and buggery. What he really loved was to shock and upset people with what he wrote, and he was extraordinarily good at it. In 'Philosophy in the Bedroom', he extends the theory that God must want us to have anal sex, or he wouldn't have made our arseholes so deliciously tight.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-08-31 20:58
Mythical Agents of Destiny: "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan
Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan


“If they want you, sooner or later they’ll scoop you up off the globe, like specks of interesting dust off a Martian artefact. Cross the gulf between the stars, and they’ll come after you. Go into centuries of storage, and they’ll be there waiting for you, clone-new, when you re-sleeve. They are what we once dreamed of as gods, mythical agents of destiny, as inescapable as Death, that poor old peasant labourer, bent over his scythe, no longer is. Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of his arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his sombre dignity, and beings like these won’t even let him in the tradesman’s entrance.”


In “Altered Carbon” by Richard K. Morgan


Cyberpunk, a historic sub-genre that was out of date by the time most people had started using Windows, cool! That said, Gibson was better than ever with the near future Blue Ant trilogy, and Stephenson is off doing whatever caught his attention, before hopefully returning with some more Shaftoes and Waterhice, I mean houses. That said, Gibson's “The Peripheral” offered some fascinating directions, but were too interesting for that hoary old sub-genre title. I've always thought of the Altered Carbon books as SF pulp really and the TV version just confirms it for me.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-08-20 11:33
Spiritual Poetry: "Hölderlin - Poemas" by Friedrich Hölderlin
POEMAS - Friedrich Hölderlin,Paulo Quintela


If Hölderlin did it why can’t I do it too? Here it goes:

Yes, we need some good poets
And I think we all know it’s
Something we’re lacking….
My mind I am fracking
But still failing to see
how wishing makes it be.
They fuckitup,
We suckitup.

When I was young, appendectomy was done under local anaesthesia. I was so afraid, I might end up in a situation like that, that I memorised some of Hölderlin's poems in a Portuguese translation by Paulo Quintela, as ways of coping with my fear. I never had an appendectomy as a child, but I still recite in my mind some of those long ago learned Hölderlin's poems when I have to sit in a dentist's chair...

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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