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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"[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."
"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
PART I AMBER'S CREATION, BANG DEAD GAMES, AND THE LONE VIOLINIST: 1 The lone violinist in the woodlands at dusk (Ghost, as Hook), 2 The terrace pool at the house on Electra Drive, 3 Here come the Beasts, up the slopes of the canyons, 4 Declaration of war by the Dreary Ones (Inciting Event), 5 "Ain'tTheyFreaky!" by Bang Dead Games, 6 Jaymi conceives his game "The Platinum Raven", 7 Development and basics in the Avenue of the Stars tower, 8 Infrastructure and stress-balls in the Avenue of the Stars tower, 9 Jaymi creates Amber's code, 10 Visuals and laughter in the Sunset Boulevard building, 11 Coding and khaki in the Sunset Boulevard building, 12 Jaymi creates Amber's appearance, 13 Jaymi's games "The Imagination Thief" and "The Host in the Attic", 14 Jaymi incarnates Amber (First Doorway of No Return). PART II "GAL SCORE", EVELYN'S CREATION, AND THE STALKING OF THE DREARY ONES: 15 Amber incarnate in the house on Electra Drive, 16 The Hollywood cafe on Cahuenga Boulevard, 17 The "Gal Score: Babe or Gross?" Newsfeed, 18 Jaymi creates Evelyn's code, 19 The Silver Lake bar on Hyperion Avenue, 20 How very concerning - did you report it?, 21 Herb hacks Evelyn's code, 22 Herb at home in the Westwood Village cottage, 23 Jaymi creates Evelyn's appearance, 24 Amber stalks Ashley through the motel by LAX, 25 Evelyn's appearance comes alive, 26 Kelly smudges Evelyn, 27 Kelly at home in the Factory Place loft, 28 Jaymi creates Evelyn's soundtrack, 29 Ashley at home in the Century Park East apartment, 30 Evelyn's soundtrack comes alive, 31 Amber stalks Dud at work, 32 Jaymi test-drives Evelyn, 33 Kelly tails Amber through the Hollywood Hills, 34 Jaymi incarnates Evelyn, 35 Ashley and Dud attack Evelyn (First Pinch Point). PART III "GUY SCORE" AND "TRIVIA SCORE", SHIGEM'S AND KIM'S CREATIONS, AND THE RIGHTEOUS GUN COCKPIT: 36 The "Guy Score: Hunk or Gross?" Newsfeed, 37 Jaymi creates Shigem's code, 38 Amber with binoculars on Sunset Plaza Drive, 39 Shigem emerges within his code, 40 Herb hacks Shigem's code, 41 The infinity pool at the Blue Jay Way house, 42 Jaymi creates Shigem's appearance, 43 The severed grey tongue-meat swinging round the football, 44 Shigem's appearance comes alive, 45 Kelly smudges Shigem, 46 The "Trivia Score: Wacky or Boring?" Newsfeed, 47 Jaymi creates Kim's code, 48 Herb hacks Kim's code, 49 Evelyn, tiny in the face of the deluge, 50 Jaymi creates Kim's appearance, 51 Kelly smudges Kim, 52 Sun-glare and skinny palms in Westmont, South Central, 53 Jaymi creates Shigem's and Kim's soundtrack, 54 The Righteous Gun Cockpit, from Bang Dead Games, 55 Jaymi test-drives Shigem and Kim, 56 Amber's eyes in the photo of the motel by the vacant lot, 57 Jaymi incarnates Shigem and Kim, 58 Ashley and Dud attack Shigem, 59 Evelyn's eyes in the photo of the motel by the liquor store, 60 Ashley and Dud attack Kim, 61 Kim on the canyon by Hercules Drive, 62 Dud shocked in the motel by the liquor store, 63 Dud shocked in the motel by the vacant lot, 64 Dud's ghastly photo opportunity, 65 Jaymi refines Shigem, 66 Lethal attack, understanding and despair (Midpoint). PART IV "ARTS SCORE", THE PLATINUM RAVEN'S CREATION, AND ELEVATING DOWNTOWN L.A.: 67 The "Arts Score: Simple-Smiley or Complex-Frowny?" Newsfeed, 68 Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven's code, 69 Herb hacks the Platinum Raven's code, 70 Three Beasts sneak into Herb's computer, 71 Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven's appearance, 72 KitKat and Krispy Kreme dramas in Downtown, 73 The Platinum Raven's appearance comes alive, 74 Kelly smudges the Platinum Raven, 75 This Downtown L.A. is a more peculiar one than most, 76 Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven's soundtrack, 77 The street queens of Violet Street, 78 The Platinum Raven's soundtrack comes alive, 79 Hatred across the L.A. River: a cruel and stupid world, 80 Jaymi test-drives the Platinum Raven, 81 Shigem shames Herb, 82 Jaymi incarnates the Platinum Raven, 83 A unicorn's-horn of invention by Herb, 84 The Platinum Raven's mission to Blue Jay Way, 85 Ashley and Dud attack the Platinum Raven (Second Pinch Point). PART V "COSY SCORE", SCORPIO'S CREATION, AND THE BEASTS GO REPURPOSING: 86 The underground server farm beyond LAX, 87 The Platinum Raven in the house on Zeus Drive, 88 The "Cosy Score: Normal-Comfy or Strange-Scary?" Newsfeed, 89 Jaymi creates Scorpio's code, 90 Kim shames Ashley, 91 Scorpio emerges within his code, 92 Feint of a hack into Scorpio's code, 93 Jaymi proposes the repurposing to Herb, 94 Jaymi creates Scorpio's appearance, 95 Scorpio's appearance comes alive, 96 Talking of meat, 97 Kelly smudges Scorpio, 98 Jaymi creates Scorpio's soundtrack, 99 Jaymi test-drives Scorpio, 100 Jaymi instructs the Beasts for the repurposing, 101 Jaymi incarnates Scorpio, 102 Amber's mission in the El Segundo refinery, 103 The Platinum Raven's mission on Avion Drive, LAX, 104 The Beasts converge on Sandpiper Street, 105 The club night in the server farm, 106 Amber heading east on a mission to murder, 107 Victory and disaster (Second Doorway of No Return). PART VI THE JAYMI BEAST'S CREATION, BATTLE AND TRANSCENDENCE: 108 Dud's bad morning, 109 Police romance and the apex predator, 110 Feint of a co-attack on Scorpio, 111 Scorpio as succubus in the house on Jupiter Drive, 112 The weak tan figure and the vast tornado, 113 Jaymi's games "Apricot Eyes" and "Hallucination in Hong Kong", 114 Jaymi creates the Jaymi Beast's code and appearance, 115 Jaymi incarnates the Jaymi Beast, 116 From Mulholland Highway to the Hollywood Sign, 117 Transcendence, vengeance and fierce beauty: the private screening (Climax), 118 Torment on Mount Lee (Climax), 119 One apart (Climax), 120 Bridge to "The Imagination Thief" (Resolution).
Number Of Pages: 358
Published: 8th January 2018
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 14.0
Weight (kg): 0.45