Brilliantly realized… A kickass SF story.
Filled with futuristic gadgets, written with wit and intelligence, this prequel to Ellison’s earlier, The Luck of Madonna 13 in The Nevergate Chronicles, is a thoroughly delightful SF tale, taking Ranger Travis One-Shoe into the middle of the IsoTown of St Coriander on the trail of a hidden treasure. When Ranger Travis One-Shoe comes across a dead body with exploded eyeballs and a sizzling implant during his patrol, he has no idea his life is going to change forever. As he begins to look into the suspicious death, he finds himself inevitably allied with the victim’s sister, Maya Ng, a sharp, tough-as-nails security tech. Soon the pair find themselves on the trail of a rumored treasure in the town of St. Coriander. But it’s been ages since the whole population of the town died under mysterious circumstances, leaving the town sealed off permanently to the outside world. Guarded by an SI system and an array of alarms and mazes, the town is not exactly a place to land in suddenly. But with Maya determined to locate the treasure, Travis One-Show has no option but to take on the challenge. However, there’s someone else who wants the treasure for themselves. There are some inspired set pieces here: a brief, violent introduction to the American Southwest community of St. Coriander; the quincunx at the center of a long-abandoned holy place; power struggles; territory disputes; the mind-blowing futuristic technologies from synthetic intelligence to cybernetic implants, devastating sonic waves, gating, holographic simulations among others. The searing descriptions of the long-abandoned St. Coriander, a desolate landscape of destruction and death provides a bleak, merciless backdrop. The portrayal of the blackout that has devastated the modern 23rd century world is equally convincing. The shifting relations and well-rounded characters compliment the briskly paced narrative. Travis One-Shoe, while not exactly the paragon of moral virtue, is thoroughly sympathetic, and it’s impossible for the reader not to root for him. His sharp wit and droll rap sessions with Maya give this novel a palpable charm. The pacing is assured, and the dialogue, particularly between Travis and Maya, whether they’re flirting or arguing, is always believable. Ellison does a good job building suspense, but some readers may find the book’s splendidly imagined but often vague futuristic world too intricate to get in easily. Nonetheless, this labyrinthine and yet engrossing tale is laced with wit and irony. The novel is not for everyone, but the advanced readers of hard-core cyberpunk fiction will be rewarded.
Treasure of the Holy Quincunx
A Travis One-Shoe Thriller
By E. T. Ellison
Pub date June 21, 20202
Price $3.29 (USD) Kindle edition, $11.99 Paperback