Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell
A Recommended Book of the Month
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain's best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed 'Ack-Ack Macaque'. The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he's starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.
A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins encircle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
The Ack-Ack Macaque idea first featured as a short story in the magazine Interzone and has been turned into a full length book and published by Solaris this year. And it is amazing. It is hard to find a word that describes Ack-Ack Macaque. It’s one-of-[ac]kind! It’s fresh. Combines a lot cool idea and above all it has a monkey, a macaque, as protagonist (yes, “chimpanzees don’t have a tail” !). Ack-Ack Macaque closely resembles for me another book that I had the pleasure to read late last year namely Babylon Steel, I have really come to appreciate these types of books from Solaris, they are for me genre breaking, out of the box lifting the fantasy genre further. Solaris has made some fine deals with them.
As you can make up from the synopsis, Ack-Ack Macaque is story featuring a monkey. I first guessed that there would be an introduction/prologue about the 1944 part, but you are actually thrown right into 2059, where a lot of things have transpired compared the 1950’s. France and Great Britain have merged into one great nation and some other countries have also joined up to create a a commonwealth. Even though this story takes place in the future I still got the feeling that some elements were introduced and kept from the 1950’s. With a mid 20th century start and some nuclear powered zeppelins in it the book does not really feel like having a steampunk influence but rather more of science fiction elements used in it, all the elements that are used make Ack-Ack Macaque is just sheer brilliant.
Already in the introducing chapters you get to know one the the protagonists of the story. There are actually three that you follow. The first you get to now is Victoria Valois who seems on the first take normal. But just a few pages in you learn that she is rebuild and a lot of things that are not “standard”, special prosthesis's, gelware, souls that can be backed-up etc. this does not only count for her but for everyone in Ack-Ack Macaque. Victoria is in her quest for finding out what exactly happened to her husband Paul who got murdered. Another protagonist of the story is Merovech, heir to the throne of France and Great Britain. He is just 19 years old, having served in the Falklands war and is being tightly looked after by his mother. Merovech does have a girlfriend Julie who persuades him to help in breaking in a laboratory to retrieve something special. I was thinking from the beginning how these individual stories could possibly be related with each other and it by what happened to Victoria’s husband that you can figure out the importance of her involvement with Merovech. But it is by the last protagonist Ack-Ack Macaque that everything falls on it’s place. In my opinion you are in for quite a surprise when you see the connection of it all.
Now there are quite a few great protagonists that I have come across in my reading ventures over the years, but I never read about a monkey before and in this Ack-Ack Macaque (the monkey himself) is just amazing to read about. He is a military trained ace fighter pilot, wears the clothes accordingly including the goggles, chomps on a cigar every now and then accompanied with a daiquiri and to top this all off: Two silver Colts big enough to blow holes in the moon. His witty, one-eyed remarks are cool to read, his personality adds a lot of fresh style to the book itself. I found that Ack-Ack Macaque character and his part in the story were very unique and I frankly just expected him to be part of the military but how the author introduced him just shows a great feat of creativeness and originality. Normally I try to write a bit in my reviews of the storyline, how it progressed but I have to refrain myself from doing that for Ack-Ack Macaque because that would take away the experience and thrill you get from reading the book itself. The synopsis is just merely the tip of the iceberg of what is hidden within this book.
Ack-Ack Macaque shows just what is possible by combining new idea and creating a unique world and a set of characters, a monkey, who would have guessed! Gareth L. Powell will be an author to look out for.
There is some great news looking forward to, I just saw on the of Gareth L Powell that a sequel will be released January 2014 http://www.garethlpowell.com/hive-monkey/.
This Ack-Ack Macaque book review was written by Jasper de Joode
Have you read Ack-Ack Macaque?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Ack-Ack Macaque reader reviews
9.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Mortal Engines Quartet
Long before the days of Mortal Engines, London is poised on the brink of apocalypse. Huge armoured fortresses are advancing across the wastelands - a new and terrifying kin...
Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius
Kevin J Anderson
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrac...
In Dark Service
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions...
Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that ...
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s Englan...
Grandville Mon Amour
The beefy badger DI Archie LeBrock is languishing in self-pity, driven to drink (as every good copper should be) by the guilt of Sarah’s murder. When his partner, Rod...
The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide
Bringing together an action-filled story full of automatons, airships and a dastardly plot to take over the world and instructions on how to make your own gadgets, The Stea...
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives
James P Blaylock
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives – brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer – is at home in Aylesford with his family. However, a f...
The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that...
The Falling Machine
Andrew P Mayer
In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime… But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a h...
A Wild West Tale
The year is 1881. The United States of America ends at the Mississippi River. Beyond lies the Indian nations, where the magic of powerful Medicine Men has halted the advanc...
Tales of the Ketty Jay
Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the ...
As the serialisation beings we meet 12-year-old schoolboy Alex who, just before Christmas, receives an old toy robot from his globe-trotting grandfather. It doesn't see...
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
With Phoenix Rising, Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris have created a great addition to the growing steampunk genre and have given a new take on fighting crime. For me, th...
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Journey to the Black City
On an Earth that is very much like our own, the civilizations of ancient man have been crushed; the giant glaciers that cover the northern part of the globe continue, even now...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be. Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outs...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...