Sunday, 30 January 2011


I was told, early on, that the 'quality papers' had an aversion to SF/fantasy and the chances of pulling a review in them difficult. So I'm really pleased that both 'The Times' and 'The Guardian' have mentioned me in despatches.

Yesterday (29th) Kate Saunders (who, I understand, has appeared on an episode of 'Have I Got News For You' so as far as the Rees family is concerned, she MUST be worth listening too) reviewed The Demi-Monde in the 'In Short' section of the Times' Saturday Review. This is what she said;

'In the first of a projected four enormous volumes, the Demi-Monde is a virtual world; the most advanced simulation yet devised. Thirty million people are ruled by the worst tyrants in history and locked in eternal conflict. But something has gone wrong - the 'sim' of Nazi Reinhard Heydrich has kidnapped the president's daughter from the real world and hidden her within the Demi-Monde. Ella Thomas a young jazz singer, sets about rescuing the missing girl by infiltrating Heydrich's virtual domain. Complete nonsense, of course, but incredibly entertaining.'

Nice one, Kate! I had always hoped the DM would entertain and amuse (and hopefully provoke a few thoughts, en route) so being described as 'complete nonsense...but incredibly entertaining' is right on the money. Just like sex, I suppose, and that's pretty popular. I was also pleased that the book had been reviewed outside the usual SF confines...maybe there's real hope that it will appeal to a broader audience.

Eric Brown (ultra-prolific SF writer and possessor of a very neat turn of phrase) writing in 'The Guardian' of 8th January (SF Round-Up) wrote:

'The Demi-Monde is a virtual reality simulation create by the American military to test their soldiers in urban warfare: it's hell, in other words, peopled by such evil historical characters as the Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, Aleister Crowley and Stalin's henchman, Lavrentiy Beria. As if that set-up weren't dark enough, the boffins up the ante by adding religious bigotry, racism and sexism. When the president's daughter gets lost in the simulation, jazz singer Ella Thomas is sent in to retrieve her. Despite the contrived concept, Rees makes the book work: the world he's created is a psychopathic nightmare, while Ella, by contrast, is a touchingly vulnerable heroine whose quest is fraught with both physical and psychological dangers.'

Thanks for that, Eric, much appreciated.

So all-in-all my first encounters with the quality press have been pretty painless. Sigh of relief time.

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