Here at One Giant Read HQ, we are huge fans of Gareth L Powell and, in the lead up to his recent appearance at the Principia Schools Conference in York to represent One Giant Read, we couldn’t help but re-read the inaugural novel in his fantastic Ack- Ack Macaque trilogy.
The novel really does have something for everyone – it’s an alternate history thriller, an epic sci-fi set in a steam-punk universe and it features one of the best characters to come out of sci-fi ever… a fighter pilot, technology enthusiast whose greatest passions including cigars. Oh, and did we mention, he’s a monkey? Taking the idea of ‘space monkeys’ to a whole new level, Powell has excellently crafted a character who is without a doubt historically and physically implausible and yet, one hundred percent believable and authentic. A truly remarkable character who made re-reading this novel an absolute pleasure.
Without spoiling too many major plot points, allow us to paint the scene of the novel. It is 1944 and German ninjas are parachuting into the idylls of England and the greatest hope of victory against the invaders lies with Ack-Ack Macaque.
The novel cleverly blends the self-aware comedy of the monkey’s presence with a convincing and surprisingly pertinent alternative history / projected future. England and France are united in the 1950s and the portrait of Britain is very different from how we view it today… or is it? We’ve said before that science fiction is one of the few genres which allows writers to commentate on and explore politics and society in innovative and boundary pushing ways and certainly reading this novel today, in 2016 leaves one with an entirely new view even as compares to reading it at the time of its publication, just a few short years ago.
An excellent opener to what has become a stand out sci-fi trilogy, Ack-Ack Macaque comes highly recommended by the One Giant Read team.