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Issue #125 - January 2006

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Breaking the Wall

By Cheryl Morgan

Here we are, back with Black Libraryís Dark Future series. These books are actually published under the Black Flame imprint because they are not quite based on Games Workshop properties. Workshop did once produce a Dark Future car combat game, which didnít have much to do with what some of us understood by the Dark Future concept. However, the books still class as tie-in novels. The original novels, edited by David Pringle, did sort of exist in parallel with the car game, but now the world has changed. Then we had Kim Newman, now we have Dave Stone. I know what you are thinking. Then we had a famous and popular writer. Now we have some hack for hire that no one has heard of. Right?

Nobody has the nuts for inference in fiction, these days. Thereís quite enough of that in real life. The need things all spelled out for them when they read books.

Yep, thatís tie-in novels all over, isnít it, boys and girls? We know what they are like: linear plots, short sentences, no words of more than three syllables, no adverbs, and absolutely nothing subtle.

Somebody should have told Dave Stone that, because as you may have guessed, the quote above came from his Dark Future novel, Golgotha Run. If they had told him, he might not have used the word "gelid" twice, and he might not have written this:

"Ö I like a somnambulating prolapse of coruscating bog-postmodernist elliptical prose as well as the next guy, but this is just completely disappearing up its own ass. We now have a grand total of three oblique but utterly ambiguous explanations as to whatís going on ó alien intervention, interdimensional incursion, and now even time-fracture references for fuckís sake ó all to explain the big news that some guy meets this girl and they end up screwing. I really do have no idea why I read this crap."

That was supposedly Masterton, the Gentech suit, commenting on a book heís been reading. But it is actually Stone commenting on what he has just written. Those three ideas have just been offered as possible explanations as to what is going on in Golgotha Run. I laughed myself silly when I saw what Stone had just done.

Of course it is also worth noting that if you are writing a tie-in novel you donít normally open it with a prologue that is based on a poem by Baudelaire. Nor do you follow that up with a quote from the French Dadaist writer, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. Really, Stone should know better. Anyone would think he was writing a proper book.

Now for the benefit of those of you who are beginning to worry about this book, I should point out that there is indeed plenty of violence in it, and a little sex as well. Much of it takes place on the road in America. Lots of gang cultists on motorsickles get wasted very messily and leave red-brown stains on the California blacktop. Thereís kind of gory stuff as well.

Concrete stanchions reinforced the rock walls in the manner of the support superstructure of a cathedral dome. Their undressed surfaces seemed to have been colonised by some strange fungoid organism: fleshy webs of tendrils from which cilia rippled like the soft spines of a sea urchin; clusters of globular fruiting members that by some inner process appeared to give off their own light. Clusters of jewels sprouting in flesh.

That was Stone channeling Duncan Shriek.

There is a plot of sorts. Thereís this guy, Eddie, and heís a bit of a drifter. But one day he comes across the wreckage of a corporate convoy and he rescues this preternaturally pneumatic babe, Trix, who isnít remotely what she seems. Then he gets taken in and Modified by the suits at Gentech and sent out on another convoy and lots of people die very messily and there are Things. They might be aliens and they might be demons and they might be creatures from beyond time, but they are probably something else entirely. You, dear reader, do not want to think about such matters, for you are merely human and your feeble mind cannot encompass the mysteries of the universe.

Goodness only knows what reading Golgotha Run will do to the minds of impressionable teenage boys ó the traditional Games Workshop market is boys between the ages of 12 and 14 ó but if it gets just one of them asking who the heck Baudelaire is then Dave Stone deserves a medal.

As for the rest of us, by the end of the novel Stone has us wondering what is really going on, and wanting to read the next book to find out.

Golgotha Run - Dave Stone - Black Flame - mass-market paperback

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Emerald City - copyright Cheryl Morgan - cheryl@emcit.com
Masthead Art copyright Steven Stahlberg (left) and Gerhard Hoeberth (right)
Additional artwork by Frank Wu & Sue Mason
Designed by Tony Geer
Copyright of individual articles remains with their authors
Editorial assistants: Anne K.G. Murphy & Kevin Standlee