Déjà Vu by Ian Hocking

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, writ­ing in The Guardian Review:

Investigator Saskia Brandt is ded­ic­ated to fight­ing high-level crime, or at least she thinks she is. David Proctor has no memory of bomb­ing a British research facil­ity in 2003, but plenty of people seem to think he did it. Then there’s Bruce Shimoda, who is doing his abso­lute best to hide from a met­al shark. While John Hatfield is a bil­lion­aire American phil­an­throp­ist. Unless, of course, he’s some­thing else … Ian Hocking’s first nov­el mixes ter­ror­ism, time travel, coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and vir­tu­al real­ity.

What makes Déjà Vu inter­est­ing is the under­stated, almost 1950s feel­ing Hocking brings to what is essen­tially a post-cyber­punk nov­el about murder and iden­tity. His lay­er­ing of the nar­rat­ive is thought­ful and the way he makes events from dif­fer­ent dec­ades mir­ror each oth­er shows quiet skill. This is a small-press pub­lic­a­tion; as such, it prob­ably won’t get the expos­ure it deserves. Larger pub­lish­ers may want to take note.”

Saskia Brandt will return in Flashback.

Déjà Vu is avail­able from Amazon and a num­ber of oth­er loc­a­tions.

Reviews

A crisply-writ­ten, fast-paced thrill­er that makes assured use of cut­ting-edge sci­ence fic­tion ideas.’

Ken MacLeod, best-selling author of The Star Fraction.

You’ve nev­er read any­thing like it before.’

— SFX

I was enthralled and con­ta­giously com­pelled to carry on through­out. The level of com­pu­ter­isa­tion of daily life is plaus­ible and handled with cas­u­al pan­ache. It’s grip­ping, fas­cin­at­ing, and power­ful, and really well writ­ten, with won­der­ful pace.’

— Ian Watson, screen­writer Artificial Intelligence: AI

An inter­est­ing debut nov­el that suc­cess­fully blends cyber­punk and tech­no­thrill­er and presents a few good sci-fi ideas along the way. …The scenes set inside the digit­al world developed by Proctor and his part­ner Bruce Shimoda are par­tic­u­larly impress­ive. [This book] sug­gests that Hocking (whose first nov­el this is) can cre­ate inter­est­ing scen­ari­os. There are some invent­ive and witty AI con­ceits, and Hocking’s near-future world is neatly extra­pol­ated from ours.’

— Andy Sawyer, The Alien Online [read in full]

The nov­el mixes real and vir­tu­al worlds with an absorb­ing near-future thrill­er nar­rat­ive and intriguing rumin­a­tions on the nature of memory and self and has genu­ine cross-over appeal bey­ond the SF&F genre. The reviews he’s picked up … point to a new voice in Brit SF that we should all be tak­ing an interest in.’

— Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International [read in full]

A multi-threaded, thought-pro­vok­ing sci-fi thrill­er. The story bal­ances tech­no­logy and people nicely, hav­ing the right mix­ture of both — the char­ac­ter build­ing doesn’t over­shad­ow the tech­no­logy, and visa versa. There are some well thought out uses for tech­no­logy, some of which I think are unique. Interaction between the char­ac­ters is well thought out. It is always a nice suprise to see a debut nov­el such as Déjà Vu. Thoroughly recom­men­ded.’

— Richard Hawkins, SciFi.uk.com [read in full]

Déjà Vu is a pacey, crisply-writ­ten thrill­er set in a plaus­ible near future. A clev­er blend­ing of tra­di­tion­al SF tropes with cyber­punk shad­ings, there are some intriguing notions and a skil­fully woven mys­tery ele­ment. Ian Hocking’s debut nov­el dis­plays both sound sci­entif­ic extra­pol­a­tion and a mature con­fid­ence.’

Stan Nicholls

I found Déjà Vu to be fast-paced, com­plex, ambi­tious, and writ­ten in a mature, clean-lined style that belied its status as a first nov­el. I felt that it trod a care­ful line between the all-comers access­ib­il­ity of the con­tem­por­ary thrill­er, and the more tar­geted ideas-driv­en pleas­ures of genre SF. In the first of these areas I found the prin­cip­al char­ac­ters real-feel­ing and enga­ging, while in the second the of issues of iden­tity and per­son­al­ity were giv­en a treat­ment that was detailed and fresh and which genu­inely — to my eye at least — seemed to break new ground. All in all, I thought it an envi­able debut.’

Stephen Gallagher, nov­el­ist and screen­writer

Excellent…crisp and pro­fes­sion­al. This book bodes well for the future.’

— Michael Allen (aka Grumpy Old Bookman) [read in full]

A smart read filled with clev­er, fresh dia­logue. The plot of Déjà Vu is intric­ate enough to leave read­ers pon­der­ing its twists long after they’ve fin­ished it.’

— Debra Hamel, book-blog.com [read in full]

Get ready to have a mind-blow­ing exper­i­ence. [This is] one mighty potent story, my friends. [I was] enthralled. Save this book for when you can isol­ate your­self and ded­ic­ate some time to a thought-pro­vok­ing exper­i­ence. This is good stuff.’

— POD Girl [read in full]

A fast-mov­ing sci­ence fic­tion thrill­er. …The book’s real strength is not its ima­gin­at­ive look at the future of sci­ence, although this is fas­cin­at­ing, but the way the writer is able to make the dis­or­i­ent­a­tion the char­ac­ters feel affect the read­er. It is a grip­ping story told in a smart, simple man­ner. …This may be a sci-fi book, but its strengths are the tra­di­tion­al vir­tues of any good book; namely, char­ac­ters and plot. I ima­gine that Ian Hocking could turn his hand to more than one genre, and I have high hopes for his next book. Déjà Vu is an adven­tur­ous but unpre­ten­tious and very impress­ive debut.’

— Exeposé [read in full]

This is a sci­ence fic­tion nov­el. This is a chase nov­el. This is a multi-stran­ded, com­plic­ated nov­el that defies under­stand­ing at times, but is still fully involving and provides a very clev­er and sat­is­fy­ing denoue­ment. This nov­el works. The writer’s style is con­sist­ent with his con­tent and the story fairly speeds along. It is con­fus­ing at times, but that is only because we are not giv­en all the facts at once. This means that when we do find out what has been going on, we can hap­pily exclaim, “Of course!” Science fic­tion does not work for every­one and this book, with its sen­tient com­puters, nano-tech­no­logy and brain-wipes, will not be to all tastes. It was to mine, though, and, if you’re that way inclined, I con­fid­ently pre­dict it will be to yours too.’

— Tregolwyn Book Reviews [read in full]

It’s well written…lots of action, some viol­ence, plenty of clues and motifs hint­ing at what is to come, but enough sus­pense to keep you turn­ing the page. …I think the author is too good a writer to get trapped in the pigeon­hole (black hole?) of SF.’

— Exeter Flying Post

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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