Street Freaks by Terry Brooks (book review).

October 2, 2018 | By | Reply More

Terry Brooks is the second fantasy author I’ve picked up in recent months who decided to write a Science Fiction novel for a change. Whether this is to help the SF novels or to attract a readership to his normal fantasy readership is hard to say. All I can do is read the book on its own merits.

Ashton ‘Ash’ Collins is ordered by his geneticist father to flee into the Red Zone and stay with a street gang called the Street Freaks, whom we later discover specialise in making speeding exotic vehicles although aren’t beyond computer hacking. Along the way, we discover genetic manipulation and cyborg technology is widespread and that Ash’s now late dad was trying to rescue some of the experiments who ended up in this team.

Into this mix, we have elements of the 1992 film ‘Sneakers’ and it looks like Brooks has spent time watching the ‘Fast & Furious’ boxset although only as far as road dragsters. Considering the Freaks’ stealth car is kept underground and only driven at night, you do have to wonder how they use its solar panels to charge its batteries? Equally, one of the team is an android and breathes oxygen is also questionable. A little knowledge of science would have avoided both situations.

Once Ash has settled in with the team, they set out to find out what happened to his father and the involvement of his uncle with all the repercussions associated with a power struggle. More than that is spoiler.

Although I can understand the almost lack of swearing to ensure that a wider audience is reached, the most exotic slang is calling someone a ‘fish’, presumably from ‘a fish out of water’ for someone who isn’t a gang member. Also the street gangs themselves come over as being far more educated than they should be considering most admit to not going to school and still in their teens. Not that teens can’t be articulate but there is some advantage of having some education if you’re supposed to be a computer hack. You might be able to develop some basic skills but moving into being computer tech experts with some basic skills does stretch things somewhat.

Brooks’ writing itself is full of pronouns with far too many ‘he’s per page and a slightly odd near past tense. It took a while to really focus on what was wrong as there is a lack of emotional content. Brooks is reporting events not letting you live them inside the characters’ heads. Considering so much is from Ash’s point of view, I think he might have done a better job had he written the story in first person.

How much this might differ from Brooks’ fantasy novels is debatable. You would think after so many novels that he would be doing emotional content. It isn’t though its missing in SF stories. Oddly, Brooks doesn’t make the most use of the SF elements and if you stripped them away you could have a normal novel which I’m not sure was intended.

GF Willmetts

September 2018

(pub: Grim Oak Press. 364 page enlarged paperback. Price: $28.00 (US), $37.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-944145-20-0)

check out websites: www.grimoakpress.com and www.TerryBrooks.net

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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