Activist, writer, sex-positive feminist, single mother, sandgroper, grumpy old woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

REVIEW: Scott Sigler - Infected

Horror/SF/Thriller

From the blurb on the back cover:
“They dropped from the atmosphere like microscopic snow. Billions of seeds, smaller than specks of dust, spiralling down from the heavens. A few survived, and began to grow...”

When the bad guy is a vampire, an axe murderer, or some other external entity, you at least have a chance to run and hide. When the evil is growing inside you, spreading through your body like a sentient cancer, there is no escape. While this book is chock-full of blood, gore and all manner of violent amputations, it was the idea of being trapped and betrayed by your own body that unsettled me the most.

“Now three people face a race against time. Dew Phillips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.

And Perry Dawsey, an ex-footballer in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. And which is getting bigger.

And then the voices start...”

Perry Dawsey wasn’t a particularly pleasant person before the infection. Abused by his wife-bashing father as a child, his pro football dreams dashed by a knee injury at the height of his career, the Perry we meet at the beginning of the book is already a bitter and twisted loser with an anger management problem. And it only gets worse from there. By the end of the book, as we watch the demise of a female ‘infectee’ through Perry’s eyes, his callous disregard for her suffering is nothing short of brutal.

And yet...I still liked him. I still wanted him to win. No matter how sick his thoughts or actions, you can’t help but recognise the hopelessness of his situation and understand that he has no ‘good’ options available to him – only varying levels of bad and much, much worse. Kudos to Mr Sigler for crafting such a complex and likeable ‘monster’.

A number of reviewers have compared Scott Sigler's work to that of Stephen King, but I'd be more inclined to liken him to Clive Barker. Sigler's character development is far superior to King's, with even the least significant players, right down to the dead and dying, being treated to their very own backstory and individual personalities. I liked that I could feel the pain of disposable victims, cheer on nameless soldiers, and genuinely mourn the loss of people who had only appeared two pages earlier.

Scott Sigler is charismatic, smart, charming, mischievous, eloquent and intense – and all of those qualities are reflected in his writing style. The story is fast-paced, the gore is plentiful but not gratuitous, and the underlying paranoia and psychological torment left me feeling unnerved for days.

Infected is book one of a trilogy. The second book, Contagious, is glaring at me from my bookshelf, gnawing at my insides, demanding to be read immediately. The final book, Pandemic, is yet to be released.

If you can't find his books in store, Infected, Contagious and countless other novels and short stories are available in the form of podcasts and audiobooks - FOR FREE! - at http://www.scottsigler.com/

Scott Sigler's fans call themselves 'Junkies' and I can see why. I'm hooked.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pinch me...

Omigod. It's been four days since Swancon ended and I'm *still* bouncing around like a ten-year-old on a Fanta binge.

Swancon is WA's annual science fiction convention. Five days of writer/reader/Torchwood tragic/gamer wet dreams. Geekgasm after geekgasm after geekgasm. I'm left feeling like you should always feel after amazing sex...exhausted and satiated, but still wanting more.

I still can't believe I got the opportunity to meet the likes of Stephen Dedman, Narrelle M Harris, Dave Luckett (aka L.S. Lawrence) ...chat to the prolific (and totally adorable) Richard Harland ...have a beer with the super-famous and uber-talented Ian Irvine...and, score of all scores, chat/hang/get blind drunk with Swancon international guest of honour, Scott Sigler.

*sigh* Scott was amazing. FUCKING AMAZING. I will admit up front, as I did when he introduced himself to me, that I had never read any of his work. I'd never even heard of him, which is UTTERLY shameful considering my love for all things horror. I promised that I would buy some of his books - which I did, immediately, (review of 'Infected' coming soon) - and bought him a beer, in the desperate hope that he would forgive and forget my transgression. What followed was an awesome couple of days of conversation with a master of horror/thriller/SF fiction.

Scott commands an audience wherever he goes and his American - and, dare I say, sexy as hell - accent dominated every Swancon conversation. Whenever he spoke, women swooned and men drooled. (Unless he was telling his infamous tapeworm joke, at which point most people would spit their beer and groan. Don't ask!) His fans call him the 'FDO' - Future Dark Overlord - and in public settings it was easy to see why. He is possibly the most charismatic person since The F├╝hrer himself.

But behind closed doors, I discovered the FDO also has a patient and supportive side...a side which, after talking to him for a couple of hours, left me feeling like I could do ANYTHING (as a writer).

Scott Sigler's writing is a wonder to behold. Scott Sigler, in the flesh, is the most fun a gal can have with her pants on. And Scott Sigler will go down as one of the most inspirational and influential people I have EVER had the good fortune to come across.

Swancon...you rock. I'll definitely be back next year! (Although I think certain prominent people want to kill me, but that's a whole other story). And Scott...I can't thank you enough. X