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Strange Flesh: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Michael Olson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.38
You Save: $5.62 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

In this debut thriller for fans of Neal Stephenson and the Millennium Trilogy, a troubled hacker finds himself at the center of a high-stakes revolution in virtual reality.

James Pryce, a hacker at Red Rook Security in Manhattan, has just received his most personal assignment yet. Blythe Randall, the woman who broke his heart in college, has hired him to locate her missing brother, Billy, whose increasingly violent stunts threaten to bring down their family’s billion-dollar media empire. To do so, James must infiltrate Billy’s last known whereabouts: GAME, a programming collective where a group of designers are at work on a top-secret invention that promises a revolutionary advance in sexual technology. James has to find Billy before his final plan is set in motion, but when the GAMErs invite him to their inner circle, his investigation takes a tantalizing—and much more dangerous—turn.

Editorial Reviews


“[An] entertaining entry into the cyber-thriller genre.”The Toronto Star

“In his head-spinning literary thriller, Olson takes us down a rabbit hole of kinky cybersex and multilevel mystery. . . . Reads like John Fowles’ The Magus reimagined by William Gibson on a Red Bull bender . . . [a] complex, cutting edge debut.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Strange Flesh is compelling cyberpunk, filled with plausible cyberwizardry, clever wordplay, murder, betrayal, and heaping helpings of gamer culture and kinky cybersex. Olson skillfully portrays worlds few readers know: quirky computing and robotics geniuses; Harvard’s wealthy, privileged undergraduate royalty; and the surpassingly strange world of online gamers. . . . Crimes, both high and low; bleeding-edge technology; and titillation: What’s not to love?”Booklist (starred review)

“Readers can choose their poison in this richly composed slab of transgressive fiction by debut novelist Olson—say, a healthy measure of Neal Stephenson crossed with a slice of Warren Ellis with a serious splash of Nicholson Baker’s sex novels. Crossing the barrier between sex, games and virtual reality, the book is likely to be the only Marquis de Sade–influenced thriller this year. . . . For readers with a penchant for this volatile mix of sex, violence and technology, the payoff is rich indeed.”Kirkus Reviews

Strange Flesh is a fascinating novel about emerging technology . . . If you enjoy [Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Stieg Larsson], as well as Ernest Cline’s great Ready Player One, and a fresh look at where things might be headed with our technology this is one intriguing read. . . . An amazing debut.”—

“If The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a titillating introduction to hacker noir, then Strange Flesh seduces us into a rocking threesome with it. Blending taut suspense with tech savvy and vigorous prose, Michael Olson shows us a world so salacious, the real one looks flaccid by comparison. This debut tour de force will leave mystery fans flushed, breathless, and begging for more.”—Dustin Thomason, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Rule of Four

About the Author

Michael Olson graduated from Harvard and worked in investment banking and software engineering before earning a master’s degree from NYU’s Interactive Technology Program, where he designed a locomotion interface for virtual environments.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4234 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00ERS7TZ0
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GG0L70
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,100 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex and Games April 4, 2012
Strange Flesh by Michael Olson lives up to its hype as a novel all about sex and games, violence and perversity. It delivers on all counts. The sex is explicit, depraved and generally nasty. The violence, both real and virtual, is frequent and disturbing. The internet is in bed with pornography as it has been from the beginning. Violence, murder, and naughty tales about the high and mighty are what sells to our prurient interests.

Michael Olsen has woven a compelling tale featuring a virtual reality "game" based on the literature of the Marquis De Sade, corruption in high places, hacking and a murder mystery with more twists and turns than there are levels in a good computer game. The protagonist is a professional cyber-sleuth hired to infiltrate a gaming enterprise that is in the process of creating the ultimate in cyber-sex. His task is to find the profoundly disturbed half brother of uber-rich twins he knew from his days at Harvard before the sibling wreaks vengeance on the family. We are constantly plagued with plots within plots and illusion layered upon illusion by the gaming geeks.

One of the marks of a good read is that you want to find out what happens next. You need to know who did the deed, how did they did it, will they succeed or fail? Who is innocent, who is guilty, and how can we know for sure? Who has earned what reward for good or ill? Strange Flesh delivers all these in spades. It is really exciting and quite well-told. There is even some fairly sensitive understanding of the poetry possible in computer code.

There are only a couple of caveats, places where the suspension of disbelief falters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Strange Flesh" about covers it... June 10, 2012

When I started hearing about Strange Flesh from other reviewers, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on a copy, and Simon and Schuster was kind enough to send me an ARC. Others were equating it to 120 Days of Sodom, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network, and Ready Player One, books I had thoroughly enjoyed; so I was definitely interested. Unfortunately, I felt that Strange Flesh was lacking many of the components the aforementioned books contained. Yes, the main character was hard to decipher, and technology (virtual reality, the internet, smartphones...) took a prominent role, but where was all the action? I find that most of the story is lost behind unnecessary definition and technical rigmarole; I do not know why Michael Olsen thinks it is obligatory to describe acts and processes that most people able to read the book would already understand, (sex, tech, etc...). I was not a fan of the characters either, they fell flat and evoked close to 0% sympathy from me. A character that started out with potential, James, just became a twisted mass of multiple personalities; from hacker to gunslinger within 200 pages. Do not even get me started on the female characters, because they were all stereo-typically objectified - there was not a strong female in the bunch - just women, sex, and games; the book's noted premise. Speaking of, why does every situation have to be laced with cheap twisted sex scenes? Most people expect a little well-developed heat in a book like this one, especially looking at the cover, but the graphic sexual content felt more prostrate and depraved than sexy and gratifying, most times wanton. Parts of the plot had redeeming qualities, but a book that takes 200+ pages to capture the readers attention will not excite readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the Right Reader, a Very Good Read May 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When the ebook was briefly available for only two bucks at the time of release the description intrigued me enough to give Strange Flesh a try. If I was rating this purely on my personal enjoyment level I would give it three stars because it was a solid read, but not one that ever grabbed me on a deeper level. However, Olson is a very talented and intelligent author who gives the reader plenty to think about, so from a more objective viewpoint Strange Flesh easily deserves four stars.

James, the protagonist, is sort of a self-destructive lost soul, and Olson managed to make him sympathetic, despite the fact he can't seem to get his act together and make smart decisions about his life. Unfortunately, James disappointed me in the end.

The book is rather languidly paced considering I was expecting an action-packed thriller, even if the much of the action was going to be code racing across computer networks rather than people racing across continents. I think it could have been tightened up some to increase tension in the first half, but I'd guess the pacing was a deliberate choice on the part of the author.

The plot is incredibly complex, and aside from the writing, the best thing about the book is how James methodically uncovers information and motivations, like peeling the layers from an onion. His sleuthing takes place inside an intricate game within a virtual world, inside computers, and out and about in the real world. Then later the virtual bleeds over into the real in uncomfortable ways. The book kept me guessing, second guessing, and backtracking. Even after what appears to be the climax there are more layers to peel, making this an unusual read.

From the hype it appears that Strange Flesh should be a sexy read, but I didn't think so.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Debut Novel
The book is definitely a good sign for people who enjoy the genre. Why is it a good sign? Because this is Mr. Olson's first book, and it is hoped that he will continue to write. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Hanan B
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed
The storyline is good and the technical details are solid. Fun read from beginning to end and full of twists
Published 9 months ago by spidermick
3.0 out of 5 stars It was OK
I found this one to be OK. Perhaps it is just I am not a fan of these types of stories.
Published 22 months ago by Bill Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoping for a sequel
I bought this book because i downloaded the preview on amazons recommendation and by the end i was searching the authors work hoping for a sequel or at least anything else. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Kevin W. Merrel
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read and more than a little disturbing
Strange Flesh, the first effort from Michael Olson is a distinctive foray into the digital world of sex and games and the harsh instrusion of reality in the form of bloody murder... Read more
Published on June 13, 2012 by Books and Lesser Evils!
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good!
I took a chance on this author at $1.99 and am very glad I did. The story caught my interest immediately and kept it right up through the end. Read more
Published on May 12, 2012 by Christine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great plot, cool characters
i liked the way the plot unfolded and especially the end scene. The characters are all very cool, though as the book is written in the first person, you are only getting the... Read more
Published on May 6, 2012 by Peter Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Flesh is spellbounding, twisted, evil, and intriguing!
James has a niche for finding people. His talent as a skilled hacker helps. That is why when his ex, Blythe Randall has come to James. She needs the best. Read more
Published on May 2, 2012 by Cheryl Koch
5.0 out of 5 stars A noire tapestry of technology, S&M, and messed up families. Good...
Genre-wise, it's firmly in the Noire camp. Into that genre frame we get a tapestry of S&M, physical computing, NYC locations,computer security, virtual worlds, gaming, and messed... Read more
Published on May 2, 2012 by Jonathan Goldstein
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story-line and fabulous writing
Loved it!!! This is a captivating, compelling, riveting tale. Mr. Michael Olson is a fantastic writer. Read more
Published on April 26, 2012 by Katherine Owen
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More About the Author

Michael Olson, a Harvard graduate, worked in investment banking and software engineering before taking a master's degree from NYU's Interactive Technology Program, where he designed a locomotion interface for virtual environments.


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