I’d never previously read anything by Gary Gibson, so I picked this one, ‘Ghost Frequencies’, out of the review pile on the strength of the title and the publisher.
Apparently, Gibson is generally known for writing hard SF, so this mash-up of quantum mechanics with a ghost story is a bit of a departure for him. I’m a sucker for a bit of genre-bending, so I was even more intrigued.
Susan MacDonald is a scientist, who has felt the pressure of being a woman in a man’s world. She’s had her research stolen by men higher up the food chain than she’ll ever be before. Now she works for billionaire businessman Christian Ashford and she desperately needs to make some headway on the current project or lose her funding. That current project involves finding a way to transmit information over vast distances with no lag time.
Her team is working in Ashford Hall, a building with a troubled history that has been left empty for some time. The renovations are as yet still incomplete and the building is not officially open. The trouble is that a murder had been committed there and it’s now deemed to be haunted. Workers, receptionists and especially night watchmen keep quitting.
In an effort to shut down this nonsense, Ashford has also called in a team of paranormal investigators to prove there is nothing supernatural going on. This is the last thing Susan and her team needs. Any hint in the press that they are involved with ghost-breakers would severely compromise their credibility. Despite protests, Ashford insists.
I won’t say a lot more about the plot, except that Susan finds a friend in Metka, one of the paranormal investigators, and they soon come to realise there’s a definite link between her work and the weird goings on at Ashford Hall.
Gibson’s writing is flawless, the story is paced so well that one doesn’t notice it at all. Equal parts hard science, ghost and detective story, the mixing of genres is handled exceptionally well. Unlike so many books these days, I failed to spot any typos, other than the fact that this particular set of four novellas is listed in the front of the book as set 3, when it should have read, set 4. I think I can forgive that minor error.
The beautiful cover by Ben Baldwin does look more like it belongs on a Gothic horror book, but it does actually fit the story. As is usual for NewCon Press’s regular sets of four unconnected novellas on a broadly shared theme, the cover is a quarter of a larger image, covering all four books.
I was very happy to learn that Gibson has a sequel in the works. I will look forward to reading it.
(pub: NewCon Press, 2018. 106 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.49 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-910935-80-4)
check out websites: www.newconpress.co.uk and www.garygibson.net