Welcome back to the Book Club, y’all! The sci-fi genre is on the docket for today’s edition, and that alone is something that takes me back to simpler times. I’ve mentioned before that I despised fiction books in my formative years, but science fiction was able to somehow wriggle its way through. As television shows like Red Dwarf and Dr. Who made up the bulk of the “grown-up” programming I was allowed to enjoy, books of similar ilk also found their way into my personal library (this includes the BBC version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…but more on that later). That’s more than enough for one trip down my memory lane, so let’s see where the world of sci-fi literature will take us in 2019.
Tigerfish, written by the 3-named ex-librarian Evan James Clark was graciously sent to the TehBen book depository for a formal review. Writings from a three-named author can only mean one of two things: insane cult manifesto, or spine-tingling science fiction. I was fairly sure this instance would end up being the latter, but just to be sure it wasn’t demanding our life savings and a spare kidney, we decided to read it anyway.
Jay Krakavaela is a man reborn…or more accurately, a man who’s been freshly reconstructed. After a terrible accident while serving as a police officer, Jay was given a new lease on life thanks to the eccentric genius of the Secordia Corporation. God only knows why, but the funding and development for a new body was taken on strict confidence in the mysterious private sector based on an island nation. Unclear on the details, both the reader and Jay are introduced to a beautiful backdrop where our main character is sent to rehab both his mind and body, in order to adjust to his new lifestyle. A super large, and totally not evil company with a military presence operating out of an island scene is off putting, but they’ve rebuilt his entire body from the ground up. Plus, they’re paying Jay’s rent and expenses as he adjusts so you know…we can gladly handle a little bit of nefarious intent. Jay’s body and mind don’t quite seem to mesh, as thoughts of his former life feel distant and unimportant. Through regular appointments with his “doctor” at a clinic funded by Secordia, Jay is asked to live as normal a life as possible, but to always journal his dreams…his scary as fuck dreams. Broken into three distinct parts, Tigerfish blends slice-of-life amusement with exciting sci-fi elements keeping readers of either style eagerly turning pages through to the end.
Despite the book’s presentation and creepy synopsis, there is a bounty of pleasant human interaction throughout the story which I’ll hold in greater reverence than the science fiction. Make no mistake, the author’s portrayal of the novel’s supernatural elements are strong from start to finish, but special care was taken in detailing the characters. Friendly characters, native island characters, slime oozing orbs attached to sexy girl characters (DM me r34 plz), but one person deserves particular recognition. As Jay is out exploring his new homeland, he meets the owner of a neat little boat/dock/restaurant named Davie. Jay soon takes a job as Davie’s cook, and the reader is treated to a unique and important character in Jay’s boss and friend. Davie starts as comic relief, and she eventually evolves to kindred spirit, back to comic relief, and by the end of the novel she’s organically developed to a total ass-kicking spark plug that “gets the girl” and in a certain light even saves the day by the novel’s closing bell. Oh, and one other thing, she’s trans. It’s not my position to award merit for representation, but from where I sit this is the best implementation of a trans character I’ve personally ever read. Every facet of Davie’s character is introduced organically, and the reader is never “hit over the head” with what makes her (or any other character) unique. I can’t do it enough justice through my description, but her personal story melts seamlessly with Jay’s, as well as secondary characters exploring a person’s changes…some we can control, others we can’t. It would have been so much easier for the author to have slapped in a cute little quirky girl that said some cuss words and dropped a good one-liner at the end of a scene, but the investment pays off as Davie is the straw that stirs this novel’s proverbial drink.
Verdict: Tigerfish, by Evan James Clark is an exciting sci-fi exploration that knows when to take itself seriously, and more importantly knows when not to do so. Both hardcore sci-fi fans and casual bookworms looking for a good time with a razor sharp edge will enjoy everything that this novel has to offer. Unforgettable characters, a detailed universe, and heaping helpings of atheist commentary…this might sound familiar to you. It’s a bold stance but I’ll come right out and say it. Evan James Clark’s novel reminds me of Douglas Adams in nearly every aspect of his writing. If that’s not enough of an endorsement to at least give Tigerfish a try, you probably shouldn’t be reading this genre in the first place.
A special thanks to Evan James Clark for supplying an advanced copy of Tigerfish to TehBen.com for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author’s Twitter: @Evanjamesclark
Buy/Pre-order Tigerfish: Amazon