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Ersatz World Paperback – May 17, 2018
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In Ersatz World, the reader is immediately drawn in by the author’s sharp narrative and incisive dialogue. Sparing of word at times, Ersatz World has a voyeuristic thread throughout, weaving characteristics of noir, erotica, bizarro and science fiction into a tableau that Mr. Godwin does brilliantly… time after time. Richard consistently delivers those stories that our own ‘dark sides’ crave, and he does it with an authority and attention to the frailty of the human condition that only one who is a master of his craft can.
Ersatz World is, among other things, a cautionary tale of man’s reliance and growing submission to technology as well a ‘primer’ on the facets of man’s psyche, which as we see here, is both self-serving and self-destructive.
While battling his own duality… devoted husband and philanderer… publisher Samuel Verso must also deal with both failing business and failing marriage. Duality is a recurring theme throughout the story as Sam struggles between the two. Can he overcome the darkness within himself?
Richard draws a chilling parallel in Ersatz World between Samuel’s need to restructure his publishing business to keep up with technology… to survive… and his wife’s need to restructure herself to satisfy something dark and primal within herself… to survive. The dichotomy at work here is unmistakable and pure Godwin.
The subtle yet not-so-subtle sexuality throughout the story has a pentagonal dimension to it. The players - Sam, Maxine, Belinda and his wife, Phyllis and her fantasy lover – form their own ‘pentagram’, if you will, and the astute reader will not miss the symbolism as the players in this little ‘fete’ do their own ‘dance with the devil’.
Throughout the story the reader is forced to ask him/herself… what is real and what isn’t?
Dark, violent and sexual, yet not without its moments of humour, Ersatz World is an insightful look at one possible future for man.
Will we heed the warning?
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Samuel is a publisher who believes that e-books are eroding literature. His wife's odd behaviour is a worry and his best selling author has gone missing. Sam's paranoia quickly descends into what feels like madness and the lines of reality start to blur.
What follows the first few chapters is something truly different and I found myself ever more bewildered and yet gripped at the same time. Godwin has a real talent for sucking you into a story and I found myself finishing this fantastic novella the same day I started it.
If you read closely enough I believe Godwin is trying to teach the reader a lesson about our gadget reliant society but do you have courage to listen? Top marks for a great read.
Verso is a publisher and the nexus of a web of problems. His best selling author has disappeared, his partner demands they move into ebooks, his wife is so far beyond anorexia that she lusts for having her limbs removed -- and he suspects that he's being followed, but by whom?
Everybody has a fetish: for his wife Phyllis it was 'something inside her that was trying to emerge into day...she could only find when the cutting began'; for his partner Belinda it was the desire to see desire in every person she met; for Samuel it is books. Part of the reason he resists the move to ebooks is not only his growing paranoia about code taking over the world but a genuine desire for the book itself. His lover Maxine feeds this fetish: 'She read from the novel and Samuel recalled publishing it. He could smell the print rising from her hand as he fondled her breasts.' As she tells him later, 'I read to you to turn you into a man.'
But even Maxine cannot save Samuel from his growing fears that somehow Fontana Rate, 'the ever elusive bestseller who despised commercial fiction' and the men who are following him -- maybe? Is it all a delusion? As he asks at one point, 'Is this some elaborate plan to make me realise my resistance to e-books is old fashioned?' Or are the serial killers, government agents and tutu-ed libertines real? There are a lot of twists and turns along the way and you'll find yourself reading faster and faster to figure out what happens. But you'll probably guess wrong.
Richard Godwin’s Ersatz World is marvelous. A veritable cornucopia of crime fiction, bizarro, sci-fi, noir, gangsters, voyeurism, lyricism, paranoia, vanity and violence. And more.
Another winner from Number Thirteen Press.