When I received a promotional copy of “Foreshadows: Ghosts of Zero” I was delighted… on paper what they had on offer was deliciously enticing to me: an illustrated collection of short stories with a decidedly dystopian cyberpunk-esque sci-fi bent… and an accompanying CD of songs “inspired” by the stories presented in the book. I was not disappointed.
Before I continue I must admit to the fact I am a very slow reader and it has taken me a good few months to progress through this book. This is not a reflection on the stories contained within “Foreshadows: Ghosts of Zero” but more on how painfully slow a reader I am. It was also the first novel that I have reviewed.
And what a start it was. “Foreshadows: Ghosts of Zero” is a truly wonderful collection of dark, dystopian pictures of the future… a future that is more Scott‘s Blade Runner than it is The Jetsons. Without giving too much away… it is a future where rare creatures feed on the information flow… and corporations are the new warring entities doing what countries used to do in their headlong pursuit of power, resources and influence. This is a future where simulacra exist and people can be brought back from the dead, rebuilt and ‘modified’ to become the ultimate fighter in the current sport of choice… a sport fed with almost 24 hour access to the individual ‘star’ fighters through their own personal video-casters.
It is a frightening and wholly unholy future… one of pollution and over-population… over treachery and double-dealing… and it makes for a great yarn. I look forward to having the time to re-read these stories and really let them soak in. They are wonderfully visual… almost cinematic in nature and told in a manner that is really engages with the reader.
This engagement is further enhanced by the accompanying CD of songs that are inspired by the stories. They act as audio clues to the key visual elements within the book.
The music is predominately electronic in nature… shifting from ethnic-flavoured ambience through to Depeche Mode-esque electro and heart-stopping industrial soundscapes. These tracks would stand tall on their own… but with some degree of intimacy with the subject matter they just shine. You can see “Amie” when you hear “Love Simulacra” … you shiver as if the “Geist” has passed by when you hear the opening track “Geist Anthropic 1:4” … or you duck as the bullets fly in the opening bars of “Too much is never enough”. It is this intimacy that takes these tracks from very good and ups them to great.
The musicians on this recording have really excelled themselves… as have the authors, to be honest. This is truly a great ‘multi-media’ package… and one I would happily recommend.
My only criticism is that it is difficult to listen to the music whilst reading the book… or at least it is for me. My brain picks up words like a radar… I can’t listen to music with vocals while I am reading… it interferes with my reading. I could only really listen to the relevant vocal track on the accompanying CD after I had read the story. But then this isn’t a soundtrack per se… although a full CD of ambient soundscapes like “…and weave the spider’s web” or “Geist Threnodic 2:4” IN ADDITION to the vocal tracks on the CD would have been truly wonderful… this was something slightly different… a collection of songs that remind the listener… that jog the memory with their intentional clues and pointers… and help them to retain what is a series of really wonder short stories.
I also thought the book was light in the illustration department… especially since it was build as a coming-together of the three disciplines – writing, illustration and music-making – but then that could be just the version I had on the Kindle. The illustration that adorns the mp3 files is fab and I would dearly love to see more of that kind of artwork throughout the book. That said… the stories did have a visual quality that meant I wasn’t in need of the illustrations… I was able to ‘see’ the characters very easily.
If you love sci-fi… and have a fondness for electronic music in all its wonderful shapes and sizes then I would heartily recommend this book / CD combo. I would also recommend this approach to other indie publishers… this combo approach is a great package for the consumer and I, for one, would love to see other examples of this on the shelves.