Book review: Aetherchrist by Kirk Jones

9781937009663

Available from Amazon

“The digital era: Analog is all but dead, but the rusted towers still strobe on the evening horizon. They project a conflicting myriad of hope, despair and eyeless ghouls who claim to see the world in gigahertz.

A small town in Vermont broadcasts prophecies of its residents’ deaths. Rey, a cutlery salesman, seems to flicker at the center of every murder on screen. He thinks the town is rigged with cameras, or the locals are trying to set him up. But as the broadcasts grow increasingly surreal, and maniacs start showing up in town to remove his sensory organs, Rey starts to realize that the images pulsing beneath the static-riddled airwaves have woven him into a battle between people who believe that analog is the frequency of the gods.”

Out of all the writers I know, I talk with Kirk Jones a lot. More so than a lot of others. Jones is good people. I read an early draft of this story what feels like forever ago, and now that it’s found a home with Apex Publications I gave the final version a read.

I remember really digging the original draft, and providing a bit of feedback here and there, although if you asked me what changed between then and now, I couldn’t tell you. All I can say is that reading this story now, it’s brought back all the things I loved about it the first time around, and between Jones and Apex we’ve got one hell of a dark/weird technological thriller on our hands.

It’s been great to watch Jones develop as an author, moving from narrative to narrative, finding his voice, and talking to him earlier on in the year, really hearing how he’s come into his own and found his stride and found a process and rhythm which works for him.

Aetherchrist is one of the best, if not the best, books he’s written to date. When you think tech thriller, you’d go to a high-tech place with cyberpunk aesthetics, becoming immersed in a world which is rapidly evolving beyond our imaginations.

This book doesn’t go there. Instead it throws back to analog, to a technology lost in time, which has continued to exist in underground and backwoods places, developing its own twisted mythologies in parallel to the new tech. This book reminds me of the lo-fi ’90s cyberpunk of anime series like Serial Experiments Lain (which at the time would have been cutting-edge) or the junkyard/piecemeal aesthetics of an anarchist cyberpunk future like Akira.

But really, Aetherchrist is its own disturbing creation with its own searingly imagined chaos, where the laws of analog signals are scrambled and reassembled as a bloody, nightmarish offering to some unknown higher power, a science not fully documented or understood, but existing violent and terrifying all the same.

Pick up this book and cross your fingers that Jones comes out with more books like this in the near future.

Last review: Winnie by Katy Michelle Quinn

Next review: Fortune Box

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