Book Review – Agent of Truth, Book 2 of The Erased Series, by Grant Piercy

Disclaimer – I do know Grant Piercy as a friend. He did not request I write this review, nor am I being paid for it.

The cover as it appears on Amazon

Agent of Truth is a high-concept sci-fi thriller, and is book 2 of The Erased series. While it explores familiar cyberpunk concepts like AI, the singularity, and identity transfer, it also includes fresh, inspired twists like transgender representation and mature approach to the material; themes like Dante’s Inferno and references to Gonzo journalism shouldn’t work in the same book, but do because they are both interrogations of the human condition. Antagonists make seductive points, and protagonists sometimes do the right thing for the wrong reason. Various characters have complex family dynamics with relationships that feel real and have depth. Character motivations are mostly clear and understandable. The plot takes a nuanced view of different characters’ desires to transition or change, or who resent the various gynoids and androids present in the world. All of this is presented with bold prose and vivid description.

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars because the characters’ voices sometimes blended together and I had to check the chapter titles to clarify who was who, especially in the Architect segments. Sometimes the short chapters were jarring, but other times they were effective as the reader internalized the character’s disorientation or frantic headspace, as with Regina or Cassia (some of the more clearly recognizable POV voices). The ‘Chorus of the Overmind’ segment felt misplaced – it was too long for an epilogue and introduced new characters at the book’s end. I assume it is meant to open doors the next book will close, but it seems more fitting for an anthology taking place in the same universe, or in a sequel. 

Those very minor observations aside, the book is a gripping read and contains some brilliant observations on human relationships, the future relationship between humanity and AI, and identity. I recommend Agent of Truth to fans of cyberpunk, science fiction, and cerebral romance. It’s an excellent read and a superb entry to the genre. I look forward to reading more of his work.

It is available here for purchase!

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – Even More Thoughts on the Phantom

A while ago I posted a ‘review’ of ABC TV’s 1990 miniseries, The Phantom of the Opera. I told myself I was done and needed to stop writing about it but then I realized who the hell cares, I do what I want. Also, I’m following the news. Waiting for the Derek Chauvin verdict on Tues afternoon was its own micro-hell in a recent span of hellish moments so splitting time between things I need to think about and things I want to think about is just good living.

So here we go!

This post will contain the best source for finding the series, a short discussion on why the miniseries rendition of the Phantom is so appealing, and appreciation for the actors’ performances in the show. It will include spoilers.

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The Phantom of The Opera (1990 – with Charles Dance!)

A recent Twitter discussion mentioned the 1990 ABC/Disney production of Phantom of the Opera. At mention of the name, a long-forgotten door blew open within the crumbling, decrepit Memory Palace of mind, and suddenly I was 12 again.

Confession: I’ve never cared much about the Andrew Lloyd Webber production, and this television series is why. It had everything a 12-year-old romantic’s seething, fevered heart could want: unrequited love, misunderstood romantic gestures, flowing poet shirts, sword fights, caves, capes, opera, and fantastic costumes. Yes, the Webber version has all that, but I saw this one first.

If you are already a fan or if you just like Charles Dance and want to check it out, it is uploaded to Youtube in two halves. I’ve embedded the first half below. The titles are in German, but the show is in English. I can’t recommend it highly enough – filmed in the actual Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, with spectacular costumes and a beautiful, unique score by John Addison, it presents a romantic, tragic version of the Phantom and gives equal time to Christine’s journey as an ingenue singer. Although usually a more sedate villain (at least in recent years), Dance in the tv series is more physical – he leaps, runs, swordfights, climbs, and yet can still intimidate with his piercing eyes and tall frame. His Phantom is the best parts of the 20th century’s most famous Draculas – Bela Lugosi’s courtly manners and hypnotic menace combined with the tigerlike attacks and sexual charisma of Christopher Lee. Most actors have trouble projecting through masks – since most of Dance’s most memorable roles required him to be restrained to the point of frosty, a mask was almost the perfect counterbalance to negate his coldness – in Phantom, he’s warm, earnest, even silly or funny sometimes, and more likeable than ever.

For a deeper dive, please keep reading. There will be spoilers!

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Navigating Depression – A Sort of Helpful User’s Guide

Real Talk Time – I’ve been navigating depression since I was very, very young. This is a serious post and people who are averse to reading about mental health or who might experience triggering due to discussion of it are encouraged to check back another time. There will be mentions of suicidal ideations, emotional abuse, and other difficult subjects. Also, Harsh Language.

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Five Things I Want You to Know About Virago

Hello, friend!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’re aware that I’ve been reading chapters of my novel Virago as weekly podcast episodes, complete with character voices. I’ll be honest – I’m too afraid to actually look at metrics. Some people can handle that kind of data, but for me that way lies madness. A handful of individuals have provided some encouraging feedback, so that’ll have to be enough for now.

If you are not interested in listening, the complete novel will be available in print and eBook format from Amazon again later this year. I don’t know when because creativity in the time of quarantine is a strange and uncertain thing. But the book is done, I’m just cleaning it up.

Once all the chapters are available, I’m going to distribute them through Spotify. Somehow! Haven’t gotten that far yet.

So for now, here are five things that I want people to know about this book.

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