Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge
Andrew R. Williams
Wings ePress, 2017
If readers aren’t drawn in by the intrigue of the opening of Andrew Williams’ Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge,
After changing shape several times, the ball eventually turned into a huge face. It floated alongside the air-car. This time, time instead of sending him mental message, the face spoke out aloud and the whole air-car vibrated with its intensity. “If you are foolish enough to renege on your contract, you will be severely punished. For your sake, I hope you wouldn’t do such a thing.” When Tarmy made no attempt to respond, the face turned and pressed itself against the millipede-free window. A moment later, Tarmy felt the fat slug entering his mind, the sign that the face was attempting to use its powers to obtain his response by other means. But as the slug dug deeper, Samantha’s cover stories began springing out of the corners of his mind. Instead of obtaining Tarmy’s agreement, all that the face saw was a burning army transporter surrounded by bodies. Undeterred, the face continued its assault. Samantha had anticipated that Tarmy might come up against an adept, so the mental images of death and destruction flowed unchecked. After failing to break Tarmy’s defences, the face removed the slug and tried reason. “You can’t win, Mr Tarleton, so why don’t you do yourself a favour and cooperate? It will be better for you in the long run. Now, where is the miniature pulse drive engine?” Tarmy realised why the millipedes hadn’t been allowed to attack. It was obvious that the Great Ones were hoping to retrieve the engine. When Tarmy didn’t respond, the face said, “I am prepared to overlook your desertion if you agree to tell us where the engine is and also honour your contract by showing us how to convert the engine into a bomb.”
then I doubt they’ll find much other literature out there engaging. Williams instantly snares our imagination provoking readers to ask ‘What?’ and feel compelled to find the answer in his prose. Astonishing settings, inventive characters, and stunning plot twists will leave many readers of the genre not just satisfied but very pleased.
Some readers may find the number of characters and changes in time to be occasionally difficult to string together, however it’s unlikely any reader won’t find themselves engrossed with Williams’ story. Taking a moment to re-read passages in Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge not only more firmly grounds you in the story it also confirms the wonder of what you just read. The ever present future tech acts as a sort of background noise to the foreground action, which is equal parts noir and space opera. Here is where Williams excels writing a character driven story, one committed to characters in dialogue with each other as they act, set in a universe of future wonder and mystery.
There is something to Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge that feels like J. G. Ballard’s speculative work (although, obviously, not at that master’s level) pushed into a hardscrabble thriller. I doubt it would easy to succinctly summarize the plot of this intricate blend of fantasy and science fiction for Williams has interlaced so many characters into a rich plot. However, readers ought to go into this novel knowing they are encountering a sort of spy thriller where the stunningly imaginative characters such as a woman who can metamorphose and a psychic cop are recruited by an AI looking for revenge. Manipulating, intimidating, coaxing, and blackmailing, the eponymous Samantha moves the characters of this novel like chess pieces set on a distant moon orbiting a forbidden planet seed with life from a derelict ship turned into a tourist trap against an ancient foe. It is perhaps one of the most involved narratives you’ll read this year and yet somehow Williams is able to pull all of his wondrous notions together into a novel that is nearly all action.
Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge is a promising series debut, challenging and addictive. Throughout the novel readers will get the sense they are in the hands of an author who has built a deep world of wonder. Another part of Williams’ success here is how he is able to casually world-build by giving us an immersive experience where the magic of the technology we encounter, so very alien to what we know, is lived and thus explained by character actions. It may be, for some, overwhelming at first but soon the tone of the novel brings readers around facilitated by a prose that is easy and quick.
About the Author
In real life, Andrew R Williams is a Chartered Surveyor. When twilight falls, he starts writing. Andrew has written two technical books – Domestic Building Surveys and A Practical Guide to Alterations and Extensions. Arcadia’s Children is his first novel. He is currently working on a sequel. Andrew lives in England, UK and is married to Geraldine. Hobbies include writing, basic astronomy and having a good time. He’s an active member of the local BNI group.