Published by Orbit
Salvation is something many people seek; a reason and meaning behind life’s great questions. Luckily, the
Cates is eventually captured by the SSF and rather than incarcerated, he is recruited by the head of the organization (Dick Marin) to personally kill Dennis Squalor, head of the
The novel is, for the most part, fast paced and Somers injects many of the action sequences with ample adrenaline. Told from the first person, the reader’s only true window into the world is Avery Cates, but he does seem a rather reliable narrator. Somers affects this very well through Cates’s deprecating internal dialogue as well as his interaction with the team he pulls together for the big kill. Even in the scenes where little action is taking place, Somers maintains a very effective narrative allowing for the pages to turn quite quickly.
The novel does have flaws, albeit minor. Rather, one flaw stood out to me – some paragraphs seemed to be repeated from chapter to chapter. In the way Cates describes the world and himself, I got the sense that a tighter edit would have made an already good flowing novel even better.
While I was reading the novel, I couldn’t help but hear some of Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime album. The feel of Somers book evoked much of the same feelings as Queensrÿche’s best known, seminal album. With a dark and untrustworthy future reminiscent of Orwell and Philip K. Dick and a protagonist who has the qualities Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs and Neal Stephenson’s Hiro Protagonist, Jeff Somers’s The Electric Church is solid title that should help to propel the US Orbit imprint and fit nicely on the shelves of most science fiction readers. This is not to say that Somers has cloned those previously mentioned writers and their characters, rather, Avery Cates and his world work very well as part of the greater cautionary and entertaining dialogue that is Science Fiction. The coda to the novel teases “Avery Cates will return in The Digital Plague, which is good news.
© 2007 Rob H. Bedford