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The Beasts of Electra Drive - Rohan Quine

The Beasts of Electra Drive

By: Rohan Quine

Paperback | 8 January 2018

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From Hollywood Hills mansions and Century City towers, to South Central motels and the oceanside refinery, "The Beasts of Electra Drive" by Rohan Quine spans a mythic L.A., following seven spectacular characters (or Beasts) from games designer Jaymi's game-worlds. The intensity of those Beasts' creation cycles leads to their release into real life in seemingly human forms, and to their combative protection of him from destructive rivals at mainstream company Bang Dead Games. Grand spaces of beauty interlock with narrow rooms of terror, both in the real world and in the incorporeal world of cyberspace. A prequel to Quine's existing five tales, "The Beasts of Electra Drive" is a unique explosion of glamour and beauty, horror and enchantment, exploring the mechanisms and magic of creativity itself. Jaymi is an independent games designer living on Electra Drive in the Hollywood Hills. Opposed to him are his former colleagues at Bang Dead Games. Their mounting competitiveness regarding his own extravagant game-creation reaches a point where they attack him physically with a flying drone. Bang Dead is preparing the global release of a game called "Ain'tTheyFreaky!", centring on five tabloid-flavoured social-media "Newsfeeds" for the victimisation of certain people by others - the "Gal Score", "Guy Score", "Trivia Score", "Arts Score" and "Cosy Score". Jaymi decides to fight back, for self-protection and to counteract this game's destructive effects. He takes an irrevocable step: after creating Amber, the most dangerous of the characters (or Beasts, as he calls them) who will populate Jaymi's project "The Platinum Raven", he releases Amber from that game, such that Amber slithers out of Jaymi's computer monitor. Appearing human, this now-incarnated Beast is sent to stalk "Ain'tTheyFreaky!'s" creators in real life - developer Dud Guy, visual designer Kelly, IT boss Ashley and programmer Herb. While Amber terrorises them, Jaymi creates a second Beast, Evelyn, a woman of ease and freedom, from his project "The Imagination Thief". Incarnated too, she joins Amber in sabotaging a Bang Dead venture in the physical world. As Jaymi's output spawns three more titles - "The Host in the Attic", "Apricot Eyes" and "Hallucination in Hong Kong" - he jumps into the creation cycles and subsequent incarnations of five more varied and human-seeming Beasts. These are Shigem, Kim, the Platinum Raven, Scorpio, and his own simulacrum the Jaymi Beast. Targeted by a more lethal drone attack than the first one, he decides that his Beasts' missions must escalate: they will infiltrate the very substance of "Ain'tTheyFreaky!". Evelyn, Shigem and Kim therefore sneak into one of the game's visual environments (a mythically seedy Downtown L.A.), where they try to put an end to some of the casually-programmed cruelty in the game. Shigem shames one Bang Dead programmer into secretly working for Jaymi instead; and Kim persuades another high-ranking Bang Dead employee to join Jaymi likewise. Five of the Beasts proceed to sabotage "Ain'tTheyFreaky!" at code level, turning its own server farm into a radically different kind of environment from before. Their sabotage takes aim at the game in such a way as to break it down into its constituent glyphs and pixels - then electrifies these, recombining them into brand-new forms of such enchanted love and wickedness and originality that they'd certainly have been forbidden by Bang Dead. Amid the resultant conflict, a Beast is sent to kill a human; a Beast is arrested, before escaping and wreaking revenge; and another human is lashed to the top of the transmitter tower above the Hollywood Sign, where... After the ensuing convulsions of destruction and violent creation have run their course, Jaymi's Beasts slip away to their appointed onscreen destinations, one by one; and he is left alone again, just as he was before he brought them into being. As he fires up his newly-completed game "The Imagination Thief" for the first time, however, it is clear that neither he nor the world around him will ever quite be as before. Rohan Quine, The Beasts of Electra Drive, literary fiction, magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, gay, Los Angeles, videogame, transgender, Hollywood Hills, L.A., creation, incarnation, game, tabloid, refinery, motel, transmitter, contemporary
Industry Reviews

"Technologically intelligent, socially clever, and supernaturally chilling-a trippy sci-fi tale. [...] There is some wonderful genderfluidity to some of the Beasts [...]. What really impressed me, however, is the flair for language, with some really beautiful-and beautifully chilling-passages that had me dog-earing pages along the way." -- Sally Bend, Bending the Bookshelf

"Quine describes [the Beasts'] release like a beautiful dance instead of a strategic infiltration. [...] a creative mashing together of Hollywood novel, science fiction, eroticism, and dystopia, with a premise that seems at once foreboding and prescient. [...] the book has an important message to tell about what it is to be truly human. [...] Quine obviously has a lot of affection for his Beasts, which has the same effect on the reader. He also injects humor throughout into what is at times a fairly dark storyline, replete with violence and seamy sexuality. In all, Quine has created a wholly unique look that will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. [...] works exceptionally well for its creative use of tech, mixed in with a group of highly imaginative characters." -- SPR

"essentially near-future cyberpunk subtly blended with elements of LA noir and dystopic fiction to create a darkly stylish and, at times, visionary glimpse into humankind's future. [...] an intriguing premise, but the story's true power comes from its underlying theme [...]. Ultimately Jaymi's journey of self-discovery mirrors our own." -- BlueInk Review

"an unctuously dark piece of magical realism interwoven with biting satire on mass culture." -- Dan Holloway, Guardian blogger

"a very visual novel [...] a little like watching a particularly unsettling art house movie. You will be, in turn, disoriented, enchanted and repelled. [...] pushes the boundaries of the outrageous and challenges you to go along for the ride." -- Catriona Troth, Bookmuse

"centers more on an interesting cast than fascinating sci-fi traits. Some characters are computer code in bodily form but still have depth. [...] There's likewise a rather sublime religious theme. [...] The author's lyrical prose is profound and sometimes surreal, especially in character descriptions. [...] Unhurried but engrossing novel in which characters are more enticing than otherworldly technology." -- Kirkus Reviews

"[the protagonist] discovers that he can bring his incarnations of excessive freedom, sexuality, intellectual seriousness, cool ambiguity, and dark vulnerability to life [...] a powerful book [...]. Pulsing with sexuality, the story will appeal to readers who enjoy artistic works rich in vocabulary, symbolism, and graphic imagery." -- Book Review Directory

"Part cyberpunk meditation and part erotic thriller, BEASTS is a stylish narrative romp [...] also a postmodern-ish meditation on creativity. [...] the writing grows increasingly smoother, culminating in a hauntingly pretty passage about man's inhumanity to man and ending up with intense backstories for the Beasts." -- Indie Reader

"Magical realism meets old school noir in Rohan Quine's technological thriller The Beasts of Electra Drive, which poses philosophical questions around reality, humanity, and where to draw the line with tech-infusion. [...] Distinct writing is filled with lyrical prose and vivid sensory descriptions [...]. The characters that Jaymi creates are refreshing in their diversity of race, gender, and sexuality. [...] The scope of variety among the beasts is a nice change of pace." -- Foreword Clarion Reviews

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