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Mark Brendan
Hollow Hills Publishing, 179 pages

Mark Brendan
Mark Brendan cites as his literary influences such radical classic satirists as Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, George Orwell and Franz Kafka, as well as more contemporary counter-culturists like William S Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson and the graphic novels of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore.

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A review by Lisa DuMond

His name may be John Everyman, but we'd best hope he doesn't represent all of us. His life, or what he thinks is his life... or his lives, is nothing the rest of us want any part of. Life for Mr. Everyman is a surrealistic illustration of hell. Try to think of a worse existence than being the mind-altered puppet of the government, corporations, secret societies, and whoever else feels like putting their hand in. Then again, maybe none of this is happening and John is just imagining the entire thing. Or maybe that's just what they want him to think.

If it sounds as if the reader will spend much of the time lost in this novel, take heart; John E is every bit as confused, if not more. From one second to the next, our anti-hero can't tell his ass from a shiny new corporate tea kettle. Come to think of it, as long as a shiny enough kettle shows up in each new place he awakens, Everyman doesn't much care. His main concern, in this world, is the prosperity and continued existence of number one. Although, no matter which situation he finds himself in, he comes up smelling like number two.

As an average man, John falls pretty far short of even the average standard. He is bigoted, misogynistic, intolerant, petty, and a bully, and -- like all bullies -- a coward. Why would anyone or any organisation choose this worthless slob to be the instrument of their retaliation? The weapon to bring about this metapocalypse? To brainwash and recreate an individual time and again the perfect subject for that experiment would have to be a shapeless, formless sort of creature. Almost an amoeba. Such a thing as a spine would definitely be nothing more than a hindrance.

Brendan's future England is a place that should send a shiver down anyone's spine. (Anyone who has one.) What little remains of the sham democracy in power is being pushed aside by a nebulous, supreme corporation which is in danger of being wiped out by an even more mysterious association with mystical underpinnings. What each group really wants is up to interpretation and speculation.

In the end, it's almost impossible to figure out who is on what side. Come to think of it, that may not even matter. While there are villains aplenty, there's nary a good guy in sight. Characters change their stories and their allegiances with the flip of a page. The scenes change with no explanation or warning. Motivations? Well, those are never clear.

So what really is going on in Metapocalypse? Maybe it comes down to what you think happened. John Everyman could just possibly be the victim of the ultimate mindfuck. Or he could be creating his own nightmarish existence. Whatever the answer, the reader is in for a wild ride... in this case though, you may be better off not being buckled in; safety may be the exact wrong thing to shoot for in Brendan's psychotic world.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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