Willow Croft’s Review of Algorithm of the Gods by S.C. Mendes and Nikki Noir (Published by Blood Bound Books).
I’ll prepare you for this collection (because, yes, it is a collection of stories/book excerpts of sorts) by saying it includes the story Algorithm of the Gods, an extended excerpt of S.C. Mendes’ previously published The City, and Book One of Nikki Noir’s Black Planet series.
I use the word prepared because the cover, the intro pages, and the “Table of Contents” to the Kindle edition didn’t really make it clear that there were different stories/book excerpts to this book. I thought it was all one book, and even if I was in the habit of reading the description on Amazon, et al, before beginning books, the information bit about that was buried midway down the description.
Even when the writers told me so at the end of “Algorithms of the Gods” (Is there more to come in the horror-steeped cyberpunk adventures of savvy techie Cassie Diaz and her sidekick, Private Detective Spencer Hardy, I was also left wondering.), I was still jarred when I was suddenly thrust into the opening scenes of Mendes’ The City, which take place back in the early 1900s. Even after I figured out it was a different story, I still had to re-read the first chapter a couple of times just to transition me out of the cyberpunk world into the 1900s noir-flavoured world of The City. My lockdown-fugued brain kept thinking it was just a point-of-view shift that had been utilized back in Algorithm.
But, eventually, I did get immersed into the gritty-street world of the past and was deep in the opium-hazed mind of former detective Max Elliot, who gets back on the trail of a depraved killer. For some reason, though, my brain felt just as opium hazed, I was subconsciously thinking of it as a short story. And then it ended. It was like the feeling when you finish watching a season of a show on Netflix but the next season hasn’t been released yet.
And I’m still quite embarrassed to admit my confusion when I was transferred into Nikki Noir’s Book One (which is even more confusedly labeled as “Season 1” on dividing title page). So, I went back to the Table of Contents. After the Black Planet Season One link there were seven other links. I was like “What? Seven more stories?” Finally after more switching back and forth, I realized it was just the next chapters of Black Planet Season (Book!) One.
By then, I was cursing myself and my own lack of Cassie-style tech savvy, I was hating on e-books, and I might have given up had I not been intending to review this book for Madness Heart Press.
And I was really sad, too. Because despite all this muddled mess of the e-book layout, the content was so clean, which is about the highest praise I can give. By clean, I don’t mean that the content was G-Rated (and it was fairly free of typos and formatting issues—though it isn’t David “Cooperfield” but “Copperfield”), because there was a lot of gore and violence as befits horror and noir and such. The writing flowed, and the stories held my interest and man, I was even more “Argh-y” when I realized I had go on to a different book (thank GOODNESS they are in paperback formats—the god has spoken thorough the algorithm nonetheless!) to find out what happens next.
The cyberpunk vibe of Algorithm of the Gods was relatable and engaging and even a little optimistic and didn’t have that “I’m the smartest in the room” elitist tone to it. (Said attitude also annoyed me to no end when I was in a graduate program for history, by the way.)
And, in spite of all the space I took up with my grumbling, I would definitely–as quoted from the authors’ link provided–“Follow Max into the City”. The link was, at least, the kind of teaser cliffhanger transition I didn’t mind. I hope Max Elliot wins and takes down the big, bad, serial killer. But, also, it is noir, so, either kind of ending will be anticipated once I (finally!) get to the end of the whole book.
I also can’t wait to read the other three books in Nikki Noir’s hilariously dark and deviant Black Planet series. (I hope to find out that Claire and Riley continue to find, and manifest, their power and have taken over the world!)
I’ll wrap this up by saying again that, while I was confused by the e-book’s layout and structure, I am very pleased to be introduced to these two authors and will be adding their other books and stories to my to-read list, for sure!
“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms”