Simon Ings, Gollancz (2014), RRP $29.99
Wolves opens with entrepreneur Conrad leaving his girlfriend Mandy and her post-car-accident prosthetic hands, with the understanding that it was her world, affectations and aesthetics he fell in love with rather than the woman herself.
He reconnects with childhood friend, fellow loner Michel and meets Michel’s girlfriend Hanna, both convinced the end-times are on the way and hopelessly engaged in building a boat to weather a coming flood. But instead of a new world Noah, Michel becomes a best-selling apocalyptic novelist and Conrad, after a wild bonfire party, ends up sleeping with Hannah, resulting in a daughter that might or might not be his.
The story shifts between Conrad’s awkward present and his dark past; the childhood spent in a red-brick inn. His parents: depressed, self-medicating mother Sara awash with crackpot money-making schemes and his tinkering father developing technology to restore sight to laser-blinded soldiers, desperate to keep the family – and the inn – functional. Sinister veteran Bryon Vaux, the last person to encounter Conrad’s mother alive, turns up later in Conrad’s later life as a financial backer for his and nerdish partner Ralph’s Augmented Reality, a digital enhancement reimagining a more attractive world through silver lenses. Young Conrad’s discovery of his mother’s apparently murdered body haunts and propels him through Augmented Reality’s metamorphosis from advertising gimmick to big-money global phenomenon.
If you like your sci fi with a literary bent then this book is for you; a near future murder mystery-thriller that touches a variety of bases. A story about the relationships that forge, bind and break us.