Title: ACK-ACK MACAQUE
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books, 2012
Genre: SF | Steampunk
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque.’ The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.
A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins circle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Ack-Ack Macaque, by Gareth L. Powell, is, without a doubt, one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed in a long, long time. This superbly plotted and thoroughly immersive story with its well-drawn characters, page-turning intrigue, clever plot twists—never mind, several neat surprises I never saw coming—will have you chugging back the coffee way into the wee small hours of night.
Ack-Ack Macaque is one of those reads that, just when you think the stakes couldn’t get any higher, Powell dials up the adrenalin and ups the ante. All the while leaving you breathlessly rooting for the good guys, as they battle against not only the odds being stacked up against them, but their own insecurities and doubt. Thankfully, Victoria, Merovech and, of course, the monkey of the moment himself, Ack-Ack Macaque, throw themselves into the fray determined to change the outcome, no matter the personal cost. And guns blazing, take the reader on an action-packed, roller-coaster ride.
A clever hybrid of SF, with a dash of alternative history, melded with a fabulous helping of Steampunk. Powell skillfully blends genres all without missing a single beat. Putting Ack-Ack Macaque up there with the best of them and one you’ll find yourself talking about long after you’ve finished reading the last page.
In short, Powell is showing his prowess, and fast becoming a master storyteller.
Rating: 8 / 10