Made a quick promo film for the book:
Sixteen year old Nick Seche is a gamer, a nerd. It’s 2024 and Seche wins a beta trial of a new tech, sensory immersive gaming unit and program from innovative gaming guru, Daichi Arata, head of Phantom Gaming. It’s a game apparently locked in the mundanity of small-town USA but Arata’s game promises so much more. It goes way beyond the virtual and plunges Nick into a world that becomes scarily not at all everyday. Via the game’s sensors and lightspeed technology Seche lives and breathes his character, Norman Mene. And things in his own world (Sydney Australia) begin to resonate with the world of Burris (the small mid-west town where the game is set); the game spirals out of control, Pleasantville meets Gremlins – hackers made substantial, gamers intruding on game space and politics out of control in downtown main street. In the meantime, back in Sydney, Seche is contacted via a strange entity he dubs the voice. Via the voice he is led to believe that the game is a simulation environment which allows sinister background entities to data mine players. It may be gaming but the stakes are real world – and Nick Seche is a guinea pig.
Malleable is an older YA crossover adult novella, with some elements of a bizarre magic realism (think Marquez merged with blue screen) but firmly anchored in our reality. It should chime a number of topical bells (think data mining, fake news, Facebook scandals and alternative realities) for readers. I am not certain that there are too many recently released books which come to mind for comparison but it belongs in part to that generic group of dystopian books such as Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells, Feed by M.T. Anderson and also some of Scott Westerfeld’s earlier work. There may also be some resonances with Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy. Donald J Trump wouldn’t like this book.
“Two days later, 5 grand worth of high-tech candy was trotted in our front door and up to my bedroom by FedEx dudes. Once they’d gone, I had it unboxed and scattered around and on my desk in about one minute.
A whole pile of what looked like I’d won a prize in some futuristic gaming show (which I guessed was pretty much true) sat on the desk in front of me. And on the floor, my desk not being enough real estate for all this hardware. I looked at it, grinning like some crazed cat. I caught my expression reflected in my window. If Dad or Rick had walked in on me then (I’d told them of my big win) I would have been sitting there looking like some idiot. It was one of the best moments of my life.
The biggest thing was a cube, a dark grey metallic thing. It looked not only impressive (made of some space age material I did not recognise) and kind of dangerous. I could see Han Solo using it to fire photon cannons at imperial threats. I connected the gaming cube first, not an act of gaming genius as it had a sticker on it: Plug me in first, then hit the power button.
Which I did. Princess Leia of Star Wars fame appeared as a flickering hologram, a wonderful imitation of the famous scene from the old 70s first film. Yes, I sighed. She waited. “Go on,” I said. Voice activation was pretty much standard these days.
“No need for help, anyone at home’ee,” the Princess said. I snorted at the feeble reference to the line Leia says in the beginning of that sequence; this was great… “