Ian Hocking’s Saskia Brandt Series

Ian Hocking has kindly sent me ebooks of the first two titles in his Saskia Brandt Series, Déjà Vu and Flashback. Déjà-VuSet a decade from now these are extremely fast-paced science fiction action thrillers involving advanced computer technology, virtual reality and time travel. As the blurb says, scientist David Proctor is running for his life. On his trail is Saskia Brandt, a detective with the European FIB. She has questions. Questions about a bomb that exploded back in 2003. But someone is hunting her too. The clues are in the shattered memories of her previous life.

Flashback further complicates matters. In 1947 a Santiago-bound plane crashes into the Andes minutes after confirming its landing time. In 2003 a passenger plane nosedives into the Bavarian National Forest during a routine flight. Although separated by more than 50 years, these tragedies are linked by seven letters: S, T, E, N, D, E, C.Flashback - Ian Hocking

Both books, written in a sometimes dense, staccato, English, are highly imaginative but I found them too breathless and densely plotted, offering little time for reflection or  involvement. I suspect the author had an eye on TV, and if you like J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe) and would like a UK version (perhaps Bugs with harder SF and more pace) here it is. Both titles have proved highly popular with readers on Amazon and if the customer comments are anything to go by you may enjoy these more than I did. Don’t just take my word. No less than Ken MacLeod described Déjà Vu as ‘A crisply-written, fast-paced thriller that makes assured use of cutting-edge science fiction ideas’.


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Putting the Science in Fiction – a free workshop

With several of the biggest names in UK Science Fiction speaking, this free event looks unmissable for anyone seriously interested in the science in fiction. Here’s a press release from the University of Manchester:

“Putting the Science in Fiction” Interfaculty Symposium on Science and Entertainment will be an interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Manchester on Wednesday 25th April, from 9:30AM to 5PM in Zochonis TH A (B5), organised by Geoff Ryman (EAS/Centre for New Writing) and David Kirby (CHSTM).

Many people look suspiciously at science in fictional media and may ask themselves: Why don’t the creators of fiction ever talk to real scientists? In fact, those who write novels, produce television shows, and create movies do speak with scientists on a regular basis. This workshop explores how science provides challenges and opportunities for the creators of fiction. By bringing together leading entertainment professionals, novelists, communication scholars, and scientists the workshop will forge new relationships between the scientific community and the arts/entertainment community. One goal of the workshop is to begin discussions about creating a “Science and Entertainment” collaboration programme in the UK equivalent to the Science and Entertainment Exchange run by the National Academy of Sciences in the US.

Confirmed speakers include:
* Stephen Baxter, author of the Manifold trilogy and the Xeelee Sequence
* Ken MacLeod, University of Edinburgh, scholar and author of the Fall Revolution series and the Engines of Light trilogy
* Alastair Reynolds, scientist and author of the Revelation Space series, Pushing Ice and House of Suns
* Geoff Ryman, University of Manchester, scholar and author of Air, The Children’s Garden, and The King’s Last Song
* Ra Page, Founder & Editorial Manager of Comma Press
* David A. Kirby, University of Manchester, author of Lab Coats in Hollywood
* Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford, author of Science on Stage
* Phil Manning, University of Manchester, paleontologist, Science Consultant for Bizarre Dinosaurs and Fossil Detectives
* Justina Robson, author of Silver Screen, Natural History and the Quantum Gravity series
* Simon Ings, author and editor of New Scientist‘s fiction magazine Arc
* Matthew Cobb, University of Manchester, Professor of Zoology
* Tim O’Brien, Jodrell Bank, Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics

“Putting the Science in Fiction” is sponsored by the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts, Faculty of Life Sciences, and Centre for New Writing.

There is no cost for the workshop, but spaces are limited so you will need to book a place by contacting scienceinfiction [dot] manchester [at] gmail [dot] com