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Faking It: Accounts of the General Genetics Corporation
Keith Brooke
Infinity Plus ebooks, 105 pages

Keith Brooke
Keith Brooke's first novel appeared in 1990, since when he has published four more adult novels, two collections, and over 60 short stories. Since 1997 he has run the web-based SF, fantasy and horror showcase Infinity Plus (www.infinityplus.co.uk), featuring the work of around 100 top genre authors, including Michael Moorcock, Stephen Baxter, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, Vonda McIntyre and Jack Vance. His previous novel, Genetopia, was published by Pyr in February 2006. Writing as Nick Gifford, his teen fiction is published by Puffin, with one novel optioned by Little Bird.

Keith Brooke Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Keith Brooke
Nick Gifford Website
SF Site Review: The Unlikely World of Faraway Frankie
SF Site Review: The Accord
SF Site Review: Genetopia
SF Site Excerpt: Genetopia
SF Site Interview: Keith Brooke
SF Site Review: Infinity Plus One
SF Site Review: Parallax View

Past Feature Reviews
A review by D. Douglas Fratz

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Faking It In recent years, Keith Brooke has been writing superior science fiction and fantasy novels such as Genotopia (Pyr, 2006), a thought-provoking story of young protagonists in a degenerate far future world destroyed by nano- and biotechnology, The Accord (Solaris, 2009), one of the finest novels of virtual reality yet written, and The Unlikely World of Faraway Frankie (NewComm Press, 2010), a touching juvenile fantasy. Brooke's considerable skills were first honed writing juvenile novels and short science fiction in the late 80s and 90s, most of which were not readily available to US readers. Faking It collects nine of those short SF stories (including one never before published), all of which are set in a common near future where biotechnology, and a brilliant but amoral small biotech drug company named General Genetics Corporation (GenGen), is remaking the world into a marvelously sinister place.

"Adrenotropic Man" (1989) is set in the then near-future of 1997 and tells of an executive "assassinated" by a new designer drug given to him by ecoterrorists that causes runaway adrenaline that will kill him if he does not remain calm. "The Greatest Game of All" (1990) is about a man so insecure in his wife's love that he has a GenGen scientist create a love potion. "Missing Time" (1997) is set in a corrupt and degenerate future where refugee boats surround the UK, where a woman realizes she has a bomb inside her set to detonate when she smells the boyfriend she is meant to assassinate. "Professionals" (1994) is a very clever story about a private investigator, Christian Taylor, who is hired by a design engineer to find a way to get his wife back, and uncovers a complex biotech conspiracy in this virtual reality-heavy future. "Easy Never Pays" (1994) is another Christian Taylor story about a woman who inexplicably keeps trying to commit suicide in public which again involves complex corporate espionage. "The Real Thing" (1996) is about an artist with a flakey lover who keeps leaving him, a vignette about suffering for art.

The title story, "Faking It," never before published, tells of a GenGen that has degenerated into a sex-and-drugs cult. "Beef Cake" is a chilling story set further in the future where people are designed for a life working in a personal microhabitat as indentured space workers. The final "bonus" story is "The Man Who Built Heaven," which became the first chapters of Brooke's excellent novel of virtual reality, The Accord.

Brooke's writing abilities developed continuously over this time, and there is significant evidence in these stories of him learning his trade while we watch. Many of the earlier stories rely somewhat annoyingly on unreliable viewpoint characters as a device to prevent the reader from figuring out what is really happening and why. Several of the early stories are set in a near future that must now be reinterpreted as 90s alternative history -- the stories therefore feel dated, despite being written only two decades ago.

Nevertheless, I recommend anyone interested in inventive near-future SF to give this cost-effective e-book collection a try, before moving on to Brook's excellent and more recently written novels.

Copyright © 2011 D. Douglas Fratz

D. Douglas Fratz has more than forty years experience as editor and publisher of literary review magazines in the science fiction and fantasy field, and author of commentary and critiques on science fiction and fantasy literature and media.


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