Two reviews have come in recently, of my fourth and fifth novels respectively.
Dominic Smith, writing at Dundee University’s Review Of The Arts, has praised “Mechagnosis” as follows:
“”Schizoid” might be the right word for Douglas Thompson’s novel Mechagnosis; it is brim-full of metaphysical leaps, time travel, esoteric references and apocalyptic imagery, and while these elements certainly test the reader, they produce an extremely enjoyable whole.
…Thompson uses different tools to synthesise the book’s many elements: chapter one is an assault of curiosities and a roving narrative; chapter two splits time and character perspectives, and introduces a nice trick (no spoilers here!) to deal with the presence of the angels; chapter six is elegantly self-contained and could feature as a short story demonstrating the best of Thompson’s prowess. Perhaps the key unifying tool, however, is the book’s cinematic ambience – Brazil, Willard and several Guillermo del Toro films sprang into my mind when reading it, but, again, Thompson transcends these elements.
…Thompson’s techniques are not overly studied, nor mere ornamentation; they are rather an attempt to make form match content – like Malthrop, he is trying, in the form of this novel, to weld together an infernal machine of his own.
…this book contains many beautiful sentences (“Objects retain the imprint of the people that make them and use them. Through the objects, I recover the people inside my head, I surround myself with their essence”(p 51)). It might be better, however, simply to re-emphasise that this book – learned, ambitious, and driven forward by a kind of literary black magic – is considerably more than the sum of its very many parts.”
Then Victoria Hooper, erstwhile editor of Polluto Magazine, has praised “Entanglement” as follows:
“Entanglement is a collection of short stories that are all part of one larger story, centred around the invention of Dupliportation technology, which has finally allowed humans to walk on other planets. This means that the book is an interesting blend of short story and novel, as the stories, though many of them could stand alone, really must be read in order and are all part of the larger story. I’ve only read one other thing that’s sort of similar, Asimov’s Foundation series, but those stories were separated by long periods of time and so this book has quite a different feel. It’s very interesting, and the stories are all fairly short and quick reads. I raced through, and really enjoyed it.
…Because the explorers sleep and then enter another world, it’s strongly linked to dreaming, and the theme of dreams runs throughout the whole collection. In fact, the stories themselves often have something of a dream-like quality, which really suits the book.
I found most of the stories fun and interesting, with a good mix of tense, thoughtful, dreamy, funny and absurd. A book like this couldn’t have worked if the author had taken things too seriously, but thankfully Douglas Thompson gives us changes of tone, style and pacing when needed. The technology aspects are written well and not bogged down with too much explanation, and the science and more fantastical elements mix very naturally.
… In these stories, the humans find that they are not necessarily as intelligent or morally superior as we often like to believe that we are. Even though rules are put in place to try to prevent too much interference, the human explorers still manage to cause plenty of harm in their blundering about and their assumptions about intelligent life. I really liked this aspect of the book.
…This is a clever book, packed with ideas, and I loved the idea of linking short stories with the same technology. The book asks some fascinating questions about dream and reality, intelligence, and how humans view their world. As ‘philosophical science fiction’, I think it works very well. I particularly enjoyed getting to know recurring characters over the course of the collection, and found the stories to be memorable and absorbing.”
Heartfelt thanks to both Dominic and Vicky for taking the time to read these books and share their thoughts on them with others. Spread the word!