Reviews of The Beasts of Electra Drive by Rohan Quine
The Beasts of Electra Drive by Rohan Quine
To see what The Beasts of Electra Drive is about, click here.
NYC Big Book Award 2021—The Beasts of Electra Drive as Winner.
IAN Book of the Year Awards 2018—The Beasts of Electra Drive as Finalist.
For some of the main talking points that stem from The Beasts of Electra Drive, see here.
There is a strong artistic element woven into this act of creation, allowing us to see how and why Jaymi creates each of his Beasts, giving them purpose and personality as well as form. […] This is a book that would have been entirely serviceable with just the hacking and virtual reality interfaces, but what makes it really compelling is the ability for Jaymi’s Beasts to step out into meat-space (I love that term) and take on corporeal form. These characters grow, learn, and even challenge their programming—they are somewhat childish in their willful independence, to the point of being sociopaths, although they demonstrate real emotion. There is some wonderful genderfluidity to some of the Beasts, with Shigem never feeling ‘quite like a boy, being half a gender to the left’ and Scorpio whose ‘nature flowers with so transgender a beauty,’ as well as a gay love affair between two Beasts who were created for one another. Lest you forget that this is a revenge fantasy, however, Amber is modeled after Rutger Hauer’s character in The Hitcher, while Scorpio’s defining moment is the fantasy of dominating an entire prison as the most dangerous boy in a skirt. […]
What really impressed me, however, is the flair for language, with some really beautiful—and beautifully chilling—passages that had me dog-earing pages along the way.”
—Sally Bend, author, in Bending the Bookshelf, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“Quine describes [the Beasts’] release like a beautiful dance instead of a strategic infiltration. […]
The novel is a creative mashing together of Hollywood novel, science fiction, eroticism, and dystopia, with a premise that seems at once foreboding and prescient. While the book takes obvious science fictional liberties with technology, there is a real-world parable about superficiality versus authenticity. As the world becomes more digitally mechanized—and we are as much a product of our digital personae as our real-life personae—the book has an important message to tell about what it is to be truly human. […]
Quine obviously has a lot of affection for his Beasts, which has the same effect on the reader. He also injects humor throughout into what is at times a fairly dark storyline, replete with violence and seamy sexuality.
In all, Quine has created a wholly unique look that will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. Most readers will empathize with the main character and his suboptimal working situation, and the steps he takes to get out from underneath a tyrannical and uninspiring boss. On a science fictional level, the novel works exceptionally well for its creative use of tech, mixed in with a group of highly imaginative characters.
A prequel to five other works, The Beasts of Electra Drive will have readers seeking out Rohan Quine’s other books in the series.”
—Sayre Ambrosio in SPR, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“this novel is essentially near-future cyberpunk subtly blended with elements of LA noir and dystopic fiction to create a darkly stylish and, at times, visionary glimpse into humankind’s future. […] Richly described, the beasts are androgynous characters with full backstories, personalities, and idiosyncrasies. Unleashed upon the world, they allow Jaymi to achieve vengeance in ingenious ways.
This is an intriguing premise, but the story’s true power comes from its underlying theme: Humans can choose to live in the superficial, and underlying falseness, of tabloid reality (as gamers do when engaging in the novel’s online game), or embrace the ‘complexity, unconventionality, beauty and subtlety of truth’ of the world around them. Ultimately Jaymi’s journey of self-discovery mirrors our own: We all seek happiness in the short time that we inhabit the ‘meat space’ of this world.”
—BlueInk Review, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“An unctuously dark piece of magical realism interwoven with biting satire on mass culture.” “This book is a marvel.” “I had the joy of editing this extraordinary novel that’s part magic realism, part horror, part satire of the media industry, part meditative hymn.”
—Dan Holloway, author, poet and Guardian blogger, here and here and here, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“Quine’s narrative challenges the arbitrariness of commercial gate-keepers and the randomness of success—and has a lot of fun in the process. It’s an odd mixture of dark—verging on horror—with more than a bit of kitsch. […] It’s a very visual novel too. Quine gives his narrative voice (and sometimes his characters), the eye of a camera mounted on a drone, able to fly across a valley and zoom in on details miles in the distance—like a tiny reflection in the pupil of someone’s eye. […]
Reading this book is a little like watching a particularly unsettling art house movie. You will be, in turn, disoriented, enchanted and repelled.
For all the technology involved, this is more magic realism than science fiction. It deliberately pushes the boundaries of the outrageous and challenges you to go along for the ride.”
—Catriona Troth, author, in Bookmuse, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“Quine’s novel centers more on an interesting cast than fascinating sci-fi traits. Some characters are computer code in bodily form but still have depth. For example, Jaymi created Kim, in part, to be Shigem’s lover. (A nice touch: both Beasts are male.) There’s likewise a rather sublime religious theme. Though one Beast kneels in prayer in front of ‘his creator,’ Jaymi, there’s an understated notion of free will. Jaymi assigns missions to Beasts (e.g., wreak havoc on Bang Dead) but often leaves them ‘to [their] own devices.’ The author’s lyrical prose is profound and sometimes surreal, especially in character descriptions. ‘Inside Kim,’ Quine writes, ‘there is a lonely savage from the caves, bent on pure first-degree survival, blown by chance and the primal drives of instinct and emotion, alone and uncertain on a dart from birth to death.’ […]
Unhurried but engrossing novel in which characters are more enticing than otherworldly technology.”
—Kirkus Reviews, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“[Protagonist Jaymi] discovers that he can bring his incarnations of excessive freedom, sexuality, intellectual seriousness, cool ambiguity, and dark vulnerability to life, unleashing them on ‘meat space.’ They become his beasts, extensions of his own personality, and through them, he interacts with the executives behind Ain’t They Freaky! As various elements of Bang Dead’s software are released, Jaymi works to help his former coworkers recognize the shallow depravity of their game through unnerving visits to their homes. […]
This is a powerful book that advocates letting people be themselves, despite how far outside the bell curve of ‘normal’ they are. Pulsing with sexuality, the story will appeal to readers who enjoy artistic works rich in vocabulary, symbolism, and graphic imagery.”
—The Book Review Directory, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“Part cyberpunk meditation and part erotic thriller, BEASTS is a stylish narrative romp around a fictional Los Angeles landscape that appeals to the heart first and the head second. […]
THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE sounds like a cyberpunk thriller, and it sort of is. It also has an erotic undertone that grows throughout the narrative as the Beasts themselves crawl out of Jaymi’s computer screen and gain independence. It’s also a postmodern-ish meditation on creativity. Part of Jaymi goes into the creation of each of his Beasts—perhaps something author Rohan Quine can relate to—and as a whole the group is as a kind of kaleidoscope view of its creator. Additionally, part of Jaymi’s mission in siccing the Beasts on Bang Dead Games is a retaliation against Ain’tTheyFreaky!, an in-universe alternate reality game that embodies empty mass appeal over genuine artistry. […] the writing grows increasingly smoother, culminating in a hauntingly pretty passage about man’s inhumanity to man and ending up with intense backstories for the Beasts.
THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE is, as its cover suggests, perhaps more about style than substance. Readers are told not to judge books by their covers—but this is the future. Maybe that’s the point.”
—IndieReader, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“A sensual ballet of rich characterisation, alluring subtlety and originality. The Beasts of Electra Drive is a novel that I didn’t want to put down while I was reading it […]. I was transported into a domain peopled by characters who felt as if they were beckoning to me. It was as if they were inviting me into a kind of gliding embrace of harmony, within the pages of their author’s imagination.
I found myself underlining things on the page, throughout it, because of the allure of Quine’s language. I was fascinated with the marriage of his vocabulary and his punctuation. On the few times when I wasn’t familiar with a word he uses, I resisted looking up its meaning—so as not to disturb the flow of the prose, but also because the spell of the sentences made the mystery of those words’ meanings into an actual part of Quine’s sheer creativity.
I felt drawn into his characters, which are complex. In the case of at least a couple of them, I had a strange feeling that they were somehow stroking me, while I was being led around their inner worlds. I was unable to dislike any of them, even those who clearly weren’t very nice.
I also loved being reminded of when I lived in the Hollywood Hills. […] Quine has captured the feel of those hills and canyons, in a way that will be recognised as authentic by anyone who’s lived there.
This book creates a luscious and sensuous effect, which you can expand into. I have the sense that it was written by a very unusual and special person.”
—Suzi Rapport, poet, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“An extraordinary genre-defining and fascinating novel. So timely as cynical, talentless and opioid-pushing mass-media owners try and downgrade all popular culture—Rupert Murdoch/tv producers and ilk, I’m looking at you. Like a lyrical poem from ancient times. But more violent and with more gay sex.”
—Hermione Ireland on Goodreads, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“In The Beasts of Electra Drive, Rohan Quine merges the techno-psychological with the interior. […] Quine’s writing is melodic and well-attuned to the rhythm of his characters. I’d recommend his work to anyone interested in an even more postmodern version of Philip K. Dick, with a more neo-feminist cybernetic vision.”
—Kiran Bhat, author, on Goodreads, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“Jaymi’s pursuits are a revenge fantasy taken to the next level, with moral and ethical quandaries wound in.
Magical realism meets old school noir in Rohan Quine’s technological thriller The Beasts of Electra Drive, which poses philosophical questions around reality, humanity, and where to draw the line with tech-infusion. […]
Distinct writing is filled with lyrical prose and vivid sensory descriptions […] At times, [Jaymi] appears to have moral quandaries about his drastic actions against a rival company. His cyber-creations also lead him to question the nature of existence and his role as a creator—can he ethically order his creations to do his bidding in the real world? […]
The characters that Jaymi creates are refreshing in their diversity of race, gender, and sexuality. The two distinctly male beasts conform to the spectrum of masculinity, with one, Amber, being excessively violent, athletic, and handsome, and the other, Kim, being introverted but boundlessly intelligent and philosophical. These two men are in relationships with Shigem and Scorpio, who are more fluid in their gender and sexual identities. Shigem and Scorpio, along with Evelyn, are of varying nonwhite ethnicities. The scope of variety among the beasts is a nice change of pace.
The Beasts of Electra Drive is a techno-thriller that focuses more on its beautiful prose than on nurturing its thrills. Although sometimes repetitive in format, the vitality of the characters is pleasant and engaging.”
—Foreword Clarion Reviews, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“A crazy, psychedelic and experimental book. A fascinating and genre-defying story of a genius computer games designer waging war on the cynical and cretinous mass-market media and entertainment peddlers that threaten to cheapen and destroy our world. Perfect for adventurous readers.”
—Dartmouth dogwalker, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
“a fully-wrought origin story like no other.”
—The Bookbag, on The Beasts of Electra Drive
The Beasts of Electra Drive discussed at Triskele LitFest, in a video and transription of the “Preserving the Unicorn” panel with Galley Beggar Press publisher Sam Jordison and novelists Sunny Singh, Alex Pheby, Dan Holloway and Catriona Troth
Video and transcription of a lively conversation with my developmental editor Dan Holloway about the process to which we subjected The Beasts of Electra Drive, entitled “How Authors Work with Editors”
Front cover of paperback, and cover of ebook, of The Beasts of Electra Drive
Back cover of paperback of The Beasts of Electra Drive
Full cover of paperback of The Beasts of Electra Drive
Cover of audiobook of The Beasts of Electra Drive
Images of The Beasts of Electra Drive’s 120 mini-chapter titles are in the Google Photos album
“Rohan Quine – THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE (novel) – mini-chapter titles”.
Rohan Quine, The Beasts of Electra Drive, literary fiction, litfic, magical realism, horror, dark fantasy, cyberpunk, contemporary, science fiction, gay, transgender, LGBTQ+, Los Angeles, L.A., Hollywood Hills, Mount Lee, game designer, video game, mansion, motel, refinery