Seven Cities of Old – Mike Wild (Snow Books)
It’s all too easy in the so-called modern age when everything is seemingly readily available at the touch of a button or click of a mouse, to forget why you fell in love with fiction, literature and books in the first place. Every single day we’re bombarded by an incessant stream of “celebrity” news and gossip, fourth rate television, ghost written novels with wafer thin plots that are only published because the “author” is one of the rich and shameless whose name for some inexplicable reason boosts television ratings and redtop sales; and populist mono-syllabic bestsellers based on conspiracy theories and dramatic legal shenanigans written by no-talent hacks looking to make a quick million from the film rights for their latest “opus”. And then a book like ‘Seven Cities of Old’ lands on your doorstep and you’re instantly reminded why you fell in love with the written word and why fiction, or more specifically genre fiction, still matters.
See, ‘Seven Cities of Old’ is a masterclass in punchy, no holds barred story-telling, that unfolds in an alternate version of the Wild West that’s infested with monsters, mutants and all manner of strange creatures and weird beasts, all of which are kept in check by the agents of a government organisation called D.R.A.W. who operate out of the biggest most technically advanced fortress the world has ever seen. It’s a furiously paced, incredibly well-written tale of a rag-tag bunch of heroes (and heroines) trying to save the world from a substance that infects, changes and slowly destroys everyone whom it comes into contact with; involving crazed preachers, ancient prophecies, duelling gods and bizarre technologies wrapped together in an engaging and enthralling reimagining of American history. While it would be all too easy to compare Mike Wild to Terry Pratchett, as both authors imbue their work with the same burning intelligence, thoughtful characterisation and penchant for referencing modern culture and entertainment (both obscure and not-so obscure), it would also do him a disservice, as he has his own voice, one that’s far more aggressive and immediate than the much lamented and more subdued Pratchett. This is genre fiction at its finest, incorporating elements of Lovecraftian horror, steam-punk insanity and good old fashioned, golden age Science Fiction in a rootin’, tootin’ six gun blazing ode to the halcyon days of pulp fiction, dime store novels and Saturday morning cliff-hangers. Damn, I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun reading a novel, and I’m willing to bet that if you’re anything like me, you’ll read it in one action packed, adventure filled sitting. Yee-haw! Tim Mass Movement