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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Stormfront: Part one of The Quantum Mechanic series - A SciFi novel from Jason Faris

When Jason Faris contacted me recently and politely enquired as to whether I would be interested in reviewing his new book Stormfront, well I was more than a bit pleased, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the fact that people ask for my opinion on their creations still gives me a kick. Though I'm not sure if they value it or they're just desperate. I mean, in 'real life' few people ever ask for my views, in fact most people wouldn't even give them the time of day. Well that is except for my students, however they are something of a captive audience who know I'll fail their arses in the blink of an eye if I sense even a feint modicum of disinterest on my blathering and blithering. This situation of disinterest also relates to animals - Neither my two dogs or two cats give more than two toots for my opinions - in fact I'm pretty sure that Molly, my Bengal, is most of the time a breath away from hating me. It's probably best that we don't talk about the incident when it was my considered opinion that we change Molly's food - It didn't go well.

The second reason I was pleased to be contacted was because it was the first time that I had been messaged via my brand spanking new website. Now I won't bore you with how fab the website actually is (but it is), or how it is is meant to act as a further outlet and promotion for this blog (which it is) or even that it also includes a wealth of other goodies of a scifi/fantasy and horror nature (though, it does). I won't even be so crass to mention that link to the website so that you could see for your own eyes (but it's here at.......               Did I mention that I have a new website?......

So essentially, Jason Faris has the (dubious) honour of being the first ever person to be promoted (well as best I can promote) by use of my site. Now while this day may not be talked about in years to come in whispered and hushed tones of reverence by students of the blogging greats, it's still a big deal to me.

It also helped that a small 'window' had appeared in by blogging schedule - the sneak preview of a brand new Scottish horror film and a couple of interviews that are awaiting responses have been slightly delayed. This meant I could sit down with my trusty iPad and read the downloaded long as the cats didn't demand to be fed, that is.

Stormfront is geared to be the first part of a series of science fiction themed stories called The Quantum Mechanic. So let me first tell you a little of the plot before I muse on the quality of the work.

"The story takes place in the near future, and mankind's long awaited convergence of technologies has faltered. Misguided efforts have created multiple crises across the globe, and spawned unthinkable atrocities. Thousands have died, millions are threatened, and international tensions run high.

In an effort to reassure the public, the global community bans all research in these fields. Violations are dealt with harshly, and those responsible are designated as enemies of humanity. But rogue nations persist, and a secret project is launched that results in one of the most heinous acts of terrorism that the world has ever seen. 

But on the day of the attacks everything changes... A man acts to rescue the little girl he loves, revealing superhuman abilities so terrifying that the world is left in shock. Now those responsible for the attack are seeking him, and a struggle is coming to define the future of mankind, and the fate of the world. 

In a future where science has become God, how does the world deal with a man whose abilities cannot be explained?"

Quite simply, this book, the first the Quantum Mechanic series, is pure SciFi enjoyment that gives energetic life to what could have been something of a potentially dry subject matter. I am often dubious about stories that are set just a few years into the future and yet seem to contain outlandish leaps of technology and societal shifts within a relatively short time that fail to logically register. Stormfront, I'm happy to say, doesn't fall into that trap as it deals with the future of warfare - specifically, the future theatre where the wars will take place - with a considered level of maturity and intelligence. If anything, judging by recent and current events in the middle East which are at the moment seemingly ripping the area apart, there may be more than a hint of accuracy to some of the themes contained in the book. 

Stormfront provides an enjoyably uncomfortable & at times horrific multiple time line tale of a near future where the world is embroiled in conflict in which military battles are fought on a human, bio-genetic and computerised level. The several set-piece scenes of violent conflict are extremely well written, the account of the Middle East battle where the allied forces first encounter the bio-mechanised fighters is especially hard-hitting in its graphic description of the terror of warfare and technology. In truth, Faris draws the reader quickly in to the story and barely lets up throughout. 

However, do not form the impression that this book is simply a superficial gung-ho shoot em up and ask questions later tale, it is far more intelligent than that. For a start, no story, regardless as to how interesting the concept may be, can survive without the reader being able to relate to the characters within it. If we cannot empathise with them, like them or simply despise them then the work is irretrievably lost at the outset. Considering that this is the introduction to the series, and so by definition time has to be spent in providing sufficient texture to the characters, the author manages to provide excellent layers to a number of the players. Two in particular are extremely interesting, the complex and tortured Jacob and the young girl Jessica, who witnesses and experiences personal horrors of her own, are both superbly written.

Whilst Stormfront deals with a number of issues, technological advances, religion, war and culture, it doesn't intend to preach. I hope that some misguided people (fools) don't misinterpret this story and try to find some hidden biblical meaning and support within this particular text. The real world isn't the Black & White simplicity that some news stations and politicians would have us believe, it is far more complex with unending textures of grey. 

What this book does well is to simply ask 'what if?'  What if we had the ability to create the perfect killing machine? What if religious and theological certainty (of all forms and dominion) became all consuming? What if ideological certainty overrides the ability to research and explore? What if our understanding of what we regard as normality was challenged?

The book also deals with the concept of faith - but don't let that put you off if you feel that you've had it up to your neck with the religious conflict that seems to constantly surround us in the world. Yes there are questions as to whether it is possible for us to regain lost faith in a god but also questions whether it is possible for us to survive when formerly unswerving faith is challenged. 

Some Fan Art - "Fear on the bridge" A scene from Part I of Book I
These questions of faith are not just theological in nature, indeed, one of the most powerful sections of Stormfront takes place when the faith in scientific certainty is challenged and then ultimately shattered. When the realisation of what the horrifying significance actually may be to the scientists examining the coding sequence for the bio-mechanical creations finally becomes clear, their expectations of reality will catastrophically never be the same for them (or us) again.

It must be said that the story isn't perfect. There are some gaps in the narrative that may well be given shape in later instalments. For example, the opening chapter, while providing some background to the cause of the catastrophic attacks, may well be interesting, the section is slightly overly descriptive and leaves a whole multitude of questions that I don't feel are fully answered. Though the beginning is the weakest part of the book, it is by no means overly detrimental to the narrative and the author certainly quickly tightens up the writing as the story progresses. In addition, the ideological and theological viewpoints are decidedly one sided and western centric. This may be intentional, or may be addressed in future instalments, either way, we shall find out.

However, these are but minor concerns as we must remember that this is the first of a series and hopefully questions of detail and motive will be, if not answered, then at least further developed in the next instalment. By their very nature, a series of books as this tend to become more complex and detailed as they progress, hopefully at some stage the opposing views and philosophy may also be explored and fleshed out.

Stormfront is an enjoyable, exciting and thought provoking story of multiple time lines and characters. The book, while not perfect, still manages nevertheless to confidently transport the reader along an authentic, roller coaster of a ride to a future where humans, the military, technology and faith of all types are challenged. 

I cannot wait to read part two, Prometheus Within - which I believe is available now.........So Jason Faris, Sir......"cough".........signed copy of Prometheus Within, please......"cough"


Jason is in his early forties and currently lives in Kentucky, near the small town Wexton is based on. He shares his home with a very patient wife, several children, and one small and incredibly neurotic dog.

The Quantum Mechanic eBook Series is his first foray into writing. 

The various links to Jason and his work can be found below;

The Website for Jason Faris can be found at :

Twitter is : @quantummech

His author Facebook page can be found at :

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