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GARETH L. POWELL’S CIGAR-SMOKING, GUN-TOTTING, SPITFIRE-PILOTING MONKEY IS BACK!

Ack-Ack Macaque is back, bigger and better than ever! Gathered together in one glorious tome for the very first time, Gareth L. Powell’s award-winning Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy is out now! 

In an alternate version of Europe where Britain and France merged in the ’50s, two unlikely heroes and one mightily pissed-off monkey come together in a sci-fi trilogy full of action, adventure, bananas and many bottles of rum. 

Read on for more about the book and click the links below to order your copies… 

ACK-ACK MACAQUE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY
by Gareth L. Powell

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A MONKEY!

Life is good for Ack-Ack Macaque. Every day the cigar-chomping, hard-drinking monkey climbs into his Spitfire to do battle with the waves of German ninjas parachuting over the gentle fields of Kent. But life is not all the joyous rattle of Machine guns and the roar of the engine, as Ack-Ack is about to find out… 

Because it is not 1944. It is the 21st century. Nuclear-powered Zeppelins circle the globe, technology is rapidly changing humanity, and Ack-Ack has lived his whole life in a videogame… 

Ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole his electronic soul. The heir to the British throne is on the run after an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, and Ack-Ack has been rudely awakened from his game world to find the doomsday clock ticking towards Armageddon…

*

You can check out a few of the reviews for this trilogy right here: 

Barnstorming…The ideas fizz off the page” – The Guardian

Readers are sure to be intrigued and fascinated by the sheer range and depth Powell has to offer within these pages.” – British Fantasy Society

Fizzes with wild ideas” – Philip Reeve, author of Mortal Engines

As much utterly irresponsible fun you could hope to have with a monkey without having to explain yourself to the police.” – SF Reviews 

So…grab your copy of Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy and settle down for one of the wildest, funnest, strangest rides of the year! 

Ack-Ack Macaque is out now!
Buy: Amazon UK|Barnes & Noble|Google|Kobo|Rebellion Store

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The Rebellion Advent Calendar: Day Twenty-Two

The twenty-second day of advent is a day that will be remembered as the darkest day in the history of the North Pole. For today is the day that Claus the Merciless brings his full power to bear on the rebels.

Battle engulfs the entire front line. Elf fights elf, reindeer grapples reindeer. Weaponised Christmas Puddings fly through the air, bubbling brandy-fuelled fireballs that set vast swathes of defensive wrapping paper alight. Baubles crunch under foot. Many combatants are so thoroughly entangled in the vast stretches of sellotape and ribbon that all they can do is watch the carnage.

The fight rages from dawn to dusk, the battle ebbing and flowing, neither side winning, both sides losing. As night falls, Santa surveys the desolation his war has brought to the North Pole. Broken toys and smashed candy canes are everywhere. The air is thick with the smell of ham that has been left out too long and has gone slightly off.

‘You have done this, Rudolf,’ he says. Only Mrs Claus hears him. ‘You have destroyed Christmas…’

*

You know what Santa needs to put an end to the Rudolfite rebellion, don’t you? Yes, a monkey with a gun, in a fighter plane!

Gareth L Powell’s monkey-tastic Ack-Ack Macaque trilogy is now only 99p in eBook format – a pre-Christmas treat if ever there was one. So, get yourself over to Amazon right now and download these unforgettable tales of the finest all-swearing, all-drinking, all-fighting monkey ever to strap himself into a fighter…

Ack-Ack Macaque is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

Hive Monkey is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

Macaque Attack is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

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The Rebellion Advent Calendar: Day Twenty-Two

The twenty-second day of advent is a day that will be remembered as the darkest day in the history of the North Pole. For today is the day that Claus the Merciless brings his full power to bear on the rebels.

Battle engulfs the front. Elf fights elf, reindeer grapples reindeer. Weaponised Christmas Puddings fly through the air, bubbling brandy-fuelled fireballs that set vast swathes of defensive wrapping paper alight. Baubles smash. Toys are thrown. Many combatants are so thoroughly entangled in sellotape and ribbon that all they can do is watch the carnage.

The fight rages from dawn to dusk, the battle ebbing and flowing, neither side winning, both sides losing. As night falls, Santa surveys the desolation his war has brought to the North Pole. Broken toys and smashed candy canes are everywhere. The air is thick with the smell of ham that has been left out too long and has gone slightly off.

‘You have done this, Rudolf,’ he says. Only Mrs Claus hears him. ‘You have destroyed Christmas…’

*

You know what Santa needs to put an end to the Rudolfite rebellion, don’t you? Yes, a monkey with a gun, in a fighter plane!

Gareth L Powell’s monkey-tastic Ack-Ack Macaque series are now only 99p each in eBook format – that’s the ENTIRE DAMN SAGA FOR ONLY £2.97! – a pre-Christmas treat if ever there was one. So, get yourself over to Amazon right now and download these unforgettable tales of the finest all-swearing, all-drinking, all-fighting monkey ever to strap himself into a fighter…

Ack-Ack Macaque is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

Hive Monkey is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

Macaque Attack is now only 99p!
Buy now: UK|US

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Guest Post: Jake Murray on creating the cover for Macaque Attack

GUEST POST: JAKE MURRAY BEHIND THE ARTWORK

Hello readers! My name is Jake Murray, and I illustrated the covers for Gareth L. Powell’s Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey, and Macaque Attack. With the release of Macaque Attack Solaris Books asked me to pen a guest article exploring the creation process behind the book’s cover. Not being one to dismiss the opportunity to ramble on about my work, I happily agreed. Working on the Ack-Ack Macaque series has been one of the great joys of my career so far, and I hope that sharing some of the “behind-the-scenes” process will pass a bit of inspiration on. So, without further ado, let’s go!

            After wrapping up the art for Hive Monkey last year, I was told that there would be a third Ack-Ack Macaque adventure on the horizon, and was excited to find out what our crass, ninja-slaying monkey would be up to next. I soon received the commission for Macaque Attack, and after reading the brief, immediately knew it would be the most epic vision of the character we’d seen yet!

            In the world of book cover illustration, there can be a lot of variance between commission requirements. Sometimes the publishing team and author have fairly specific ideas of what they’d like to see on the cover. At other times, it’s up to the illustrator to pinpoint what he/she thinks would be a compelling part of the narrative to showcase. With Macaque Attack, Gareth already had some ideas in mind of what the cover should be, so my job was primarily to take those ideas and try to make them as visually explosive as possible.

            The general focus of this book’s cover would be our herioc monkey leading his ragtag army of apes into battle on Mars – which is the kind of awesome thing that every sci-fi illustrator dreams of at night. Gareth had suggested a few different ways of how we might show that, from more literal depictions of an army in battle, to more conceptual ideas reminiscent of old Soviet space propaganda posters. In any case, the image would need to be unique and exciting, but still carry the same feeling of adventure and intrigue as the previous two books.

            Whenever I get the opportunity to create a series of book covers, I try to imagine what each book would look like sitting next to each other on a shelf. How will a reader be able to to tell that the books all go together and yet be able to quickly distinguish each one from the others? With Ack-Ack Macaque and Hive Monkey, I had established a precedent for showing the main character’s full figure, which could be used in this new cover to create visual continuity. The way I would distinguish it from the others, however, is with color. Each of the two previous covers had made use of a particular primary color (the first one being yellow, and the second one pale blue). Since the focus of the Macaque Attack cover would be Mars and battle, it seemed a perfect solution to limit the color palette to browns and reds.

            After submitting sketches to the publishing team, it was decided that the “Soviet poster” concept (concept “C” in the image above) would be the way to go. The team felt it had enough action mixed with just the right amount of quirkiness to help it feel at home with the previous two books. From there I set out to gather and photograph all of the reference imagery I would need to execute the painting.

            When painting anything that needs to look real or semi-real, good visual reference is an absolute necessity. I mean, a good still-life artist doesn’t just paint an orange sitting on a table out of his head, right? He actually looks at an orange sitting on a table! So too is it with even the most fantastical images. Of course, I don’t actually have a macaque that I can dress up – and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t give him a gun. But there is an abundance of animal photography on the internet that helps me figure out what the character should look like, and I can also create and photograph various people and objects to approximate everything that should be in the painting.

            One tool I make use of for painting fantastical creatures is called a “maquette,” which is basically just a fancy word for a small-scale sculpture. For the Ack-Ack Macaque cover, I sculpted a miniature head for the character which I’ve been able to use for each cover in the series. Because the maquette exists in the physical world, I can pose it and light it any way I want and it will still look like the same character in the end, as long as I’ve drawn and painted what I’m seeing correctly. This is especially important when painting multiple cover images of the same character. Ack-Ack Macaque has to look like Ack-Ack Macaque! So having a real-world physical representation of the character to look at is extremely helpful.

            In addition to the maquette, I also photograph a costumed live model (in this case, myself) for pose and lighting reference. Since monkeys and humans are built pretty similarly, it would only take some adjusting of proportions (and hairiness) to transform myself into a whole army of animals. Even if I don’t have the exact items I plan to paint (my studio is sadly lacking in miniguns), I can use other household items to stand in for them and see how they affect the light and shadow of the scene. It’s basically like playing pretend in front of a camera.

            Once I have all of my reference material assembled, it’s time to begin work on the final painting. I use a program called Painter 12 from Corel and a Wacom digitizing tablet to create most of my art. Though completely digital, these tools really allow me to take a traditional painter’s approach, with the added bonus of the “undo” command. The final art is created at about 250% the size of the final printed image. This ensures that it will look detailed and crisp when it is reduced to print size.

            Typically I start with a detailed priliminary drawing in black and white. It allows me to really figure everything out up front so that when it’s time to put color down, I won’t be grappling with any added difficulties of form and perspective. Having a solid drawing in black and white creates a road map for your painting – as long as you follow it, you can be pretty well assured that the painting will come out solid as well.

            When the preliminary drawing has been approved, I go to town painting. I start with a transparent block-in of color over my drawing to establish the overall relationships, not worrying about details. From there, I set out painting opaquely each area to completion, usually starting in the background and working my way forward. However, a lot can happen throughout the painting process, and every decision you make about a color or paint stroke will determine every following decision. Sometimes you can end up painting something early on that you won’t realize is “wrong” until you’ve finished painting everything else around it. So there can be a lot of back-and-forth in the process as well.

            After roughly 30 hours of painting and repainting, I’m happy to call the piece done and email it out to the publisher for final review. If everything looks good to them, then my work is done!

            And that’s how a book cover evolves from a typed email to a full-color image! Though the overall process is basically the same with every commission, each piece presents its own unique artistic challenges. Solving these visual problems and telling compelling stories is what I live for as an illustrator, and I can only hope that the solutions I come up with will inspire others to do the same!

Thanks for reading!

You can find more of Jake’s art at his website (including prints to purchase): www.murr-art.com

Macaque Attack by Gareth L Powell is out now! Click the navigation tags at the top of the page for more information and related posts.

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Monkey VS Multiverse

As news of Ack-Ack’s presence this at Solaris Towers spread we found ourselves briefly in the spot light of the world’s scientific press, we did what any self-respecting publisher would do: subtly put out the word we were totally open for bribes to grant one twenty-minute interview slot with the monkey to pick his brain about his real-world experience with quantum physics.

Sadly the monkey’s reputation preceded him and we received two offers: a fruit basket (what were you thinking Hawkins?) and a bottle of Sainsbury’s second cheapest own-brand rum from Professor Stewart Hotston.

It’s with great pleasure we therefore introduce Professor Hotson in conversation with Ack-Ack-Macaque:

SH: Tell me how your species solved the non-locality problems involved in moving between worlds – especially with reference to Bell’s

AAM: To be honest with you, we stole the engines. We don’t know how they work. But then, I don’t know how a Spitfire’s engine works either, and I’m still happy to fly one.

SH: Can we then assume that all worlds exist within the same quantum field?

AAM: Sure, why not? I certainly seem to spend a lot of time in fields, mostly running away from tanks.

SH: Do your engines displace excess matter (or should I say energy) so that different universes don’t breech the 1st law of thermodynamics?

AAM: Damned if I know. They certainly use a lot of energy and make a lot of noise. Lots of static electricity too. You should see what it does to me, with all my hair standing on end. I look like a loveable plush toy.

SH: Aren’t you scared you’re going to destroy the universe?

AAM: Heh, heh, heh.

SH: Who’s your most famous physicist? 

AAM: That fellow with all the white hair who was in Back To the Future. Albert Frankenstein. He invented atomic bombs and gull-wing doors.

SH: What would you say to kids who want to become scientists so that they can follow in your footsteps?

AAM: If you know what you want to do with your life, go ahead and do it. Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. Don’t take crap from people who don’t believe in you. Find out what you need to do to achieve your goal, and then go out there and do it. Take life by the throat and shake it until all the good stuff falls out of its pockets.

SH: If all worlds are part of a universal aggregation of continuous but non-co-extensive wave functions how do you know that our destiny isn’t to be part of a hivemind?

AAM: I don’t know about you, sunshine, but my destiny is whatever the hell I say it is. No universal aggressor’s going to tell me what to think. And besides, I’d never be part of a hivemind that wanted someone like me as a member.

SH: Why aren’t you susceptible to germs in other worlds to which you have no defences? Is there an inter-dimensional version of small pox?

AAM: I try not to get too touchy-feely with people I meet, although I did pick up a nasty case of fleas on one of the worlds we visited. Tough little buggers. They appear to be resistant to all brands of flea spray. Fortunately, there’s so much alcohol sloshing around in my blood, every time they take a bite they get woozy and fall off.

SH: Are you, you everywhere?

AAM: I’ve met other versions of myself on other parallel worlds. In fact, I’ve recruited most of them into my monkey army. Sure, there are differences between us, but we share all the most important stuff: an inability to play nice with others, a healthy disrespect for authority, and a penchant for making big things go boom. That said, most of them are assholes. I’ve yet to find one half as awesome as me.

SH: If there are an infinite number of universes then there are an infinite number of universes identical to this one – so how come you keep finding ones with significant differences?

AAM:  Wow, you’re seriously bending my brain banana. Infinite worlds? That’s more than like… ten, right? That’s like a whole endless playground. So much scope for havoc. 

I can’t hang around here all day answering damn crazy questions. I’ve got trouble to cause, and in infinite number of places to cause it!

About

Stewart Hotston is not a dimension hopping monkey. He is a physicist who made that leap to becoming a master of the universe. When he’s not inventing money out of thin air he’s currently a grand vizier in a fest live action role play, a swordsman who’s actually read his Agrippa and a writer. He’s written more than a dozen short stories including Haecceity in Ian Whates’ La Femme anthology, Love is Stronger in Matthew Sylvestesr’s Stille Untoten and All You Can Eat in Theresa Derwin’s The Last Diner.  He is currently working on a longer work called The Fox’s Hope, a story about a world where all myths are true.

Ack Ack Macaque is the star of the award-winning  trilogy and the kind of monkey your mother warned you about.

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Radio Free Monkey

As part of this monkey blog takeover, we present the following fantasy soundtrack for the Ack-Ack Macaque trilogy.

If Ack-Ack had an MP3 player, these are the songs he’d be listening to while flying planes and kicking asses…. Click the links to join in the jam.

 

1.      Macaque Attack by Urban Barnyard

 

2.      Go Monkey Go by Devo

 

3.      This Monkey’s Gone To Heaven by The Pixies

 

4.      Spitfire by Public Service Broadcasting

 

5.      Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey by The Beatles

 

6.      Dance Like A Monkey by New York Dolls

 

7.      Bomber by Motorhead

 

8.      The Right Stuff by Robert Calvert

 

9.      Apeman by The Kinks

 

10.  Happiness Is A Warm Gun by The Breeders

 

Did we miss any? What’s your favourite primate-related tune?

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How to recruit a monkey army

How to recruit a monkey army.

 By Ack-Ack Macaque

 

Hello humans.

The top brass at Solaris asked me to make a list of famous primates I’d like to recruit into my monkey army.

I told them to fuck off, but they insisted.

So, under pain of having my bananas confiscated, here it is: my list of the baddest, hairiest knuckle-draggers ever to shamble across the face of this sorry planet.

1) King Kong – The granddaddy of us all. He punched out a hungry T-rex, for heaven’s sake. Then he trashed New York, and even went on to fight Godzilla. Plus, he can take a dump the size of a school bus, which is both disgusting and awesome. If he could only keep his mind on the task at hand, instead of on the ladies, he’d make a formidable ally. [Note to self: keep him away from skyscrapers].

2) Six-Gun Gorilla – Recently revived by Judge Dredd writer Simon Spurrier and artist Jeff Stokely, Six-Gun Gorilla stalks the Wild West badlands of a planet named Blister. He’s a bio-modified badass with a pair of enormous revolvers – in that respect, he’s a lot like me. I think we’d make a great team – if we don’t try to kill each other first.

 

3) Caesar – The chimpanzee responsible for kick-starting The Planet Of The Apes. Like me, he began his life in a laboratory; but he soon busted out and began to recruit other primates. The next thing you know, he’s started an insurgency that threatens the survival of the human race. I figure any chimp capable of that has to be worth having on my side – although, I’d have to keep a close eye on him. I don’t want him thinking he can take over, just because he’s got all the brains.

 

4) Titano – In the Superman comics, Titano was a normal ape until he became exposed to space radiation. He returned to Earth as an intelligent monster with the ability to shoot Kryptonite rays from his eyes – making him more than a match for Kal-El. Being able to zap superheroes with your eyes is a neat trick, and bound to come in handy. Welcome aboard, big fella.

 

5) Sun Wukong – In the classical Chinese novel, Journey To The West, Sun Wukong acquires supernatural powers and leads a rebellion against Heaven itself. He can leap great distances, command the wind, and hold his own against gods and demons. He is the monkey king, and no assemblage of fictional monkeys would be complete without him.

 

To read more about Ack-Ack Macaque’s monkey army, order a copy of MACAQUE ATTACK, the third part of the award-winning ‘Macaque’ trilogy, out now!

Order: UK | US | DRM-free eBook

For more from Ack Ack Macaque, order to find out more about the series click the navigation tag at the top of this post!

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An interview with Ack-Ack Macaque

An Interview with Ack-Ack Macaque

To celebrate the launch of Macaque Attack on January 15th, we wanted to get an interview with the star of the ‘Macaque’ trilogy, Ack-Ack himself. Unfortunately, the first three correspondents we sent to meet with him disappeared, never to be heard from again. Finally, out of desperation, we asked the trilogy’s author, Gareth L. Powell, to interview his rowdy creation, and soon received the following transcription. Apparently Gareth arranged to meet the monkey in a bar on the harbourside in Bristol. Unfortunately, we can’t verify the accuracy of the recording, as the bar has since burned down and all the witnesses to the conversation have gone into hiding.

 

[Tape starts]

GLP: I am here this evening with Ack-Ack Macaque. Say hello, Ack-Ack.

AAM: [mumbles]

GLP: Please speak into the microphone.

AAM: IS THAT BETTER?

GLP: It’ll do.

AAM: You got some questions for me?

GLP: Well, yes.

[Sound of glasses clinking, spirit being poured.]

GLP: First off, I want to ask you how you feel about the new book?

AAM: How I feel? What is this, a therapy session? As far as I remember, the deal was that I tell you my life story and you write it all down and cash the cheques. There’s no ‘feel’ about it.

GLP: But this is the last one. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

AAM: It’s a hell of a read, although there’s probably too much ‘characterisation’ in it for my taste. You spend too much time bringing to life all the people in the story. You should have put in more bits about me being heroic and blowing shit up.

GLP: We’ve been together for three years now. This might be the last time we work together.

AAM: Hah!

GLP: What about the cover illustration by Jake Murray? I thought it was very striking.

AAM: Yeah, I’m a handsome bastard. But what is it with that title? ‘Macaque Attack’. Who came up with that?

GLP: At least it rhymes.

AAM: Fuck rhyming.

[Further sounds of pouring]

GLP: You’re just being objectionable for the sake of it, aren’t you? 

AAM: Oh, shut up, Powell. Why don’t you fuck off back to your garret and write another of those space operas you’re so fond of? 

GLP: Maybe I will. 

AAM: Yeah, don’t worry about me. You go and have fun with your space battles and alien monsters. I’ll be fine.

GLP: Are you jealous?

AAM: [Snorts] Piss off. 

GLP: [After a long silence] So, as this might be your last chance, do you have anything you’d like to say to the ladies and gentlemen? 

AAM: Yeah. [Clears throat] Okay. LISTEN UP HUMANS! There are always bastards out there trying to take away your freedom, your stuff and your lives. And it’s up to me to fight them. I save the world so you don’t have to. The least you can do is pick up a copy of the book. Hell, pick up copies of ALL my books, and get a load of my adventures. Find out why I’m the baddest, snarlingest, ass-kickingest monkey on this sorry excuse for a planet. 

GLP: Is that it?

AAM: You want more, you’re going to have to buy another bottle. This one seems to be empty. 

[Sound of glass smashing against the wall]

GLP: Hey, don’t do that. You’ll get us thrown out.

AAM: You think I give a crap? I’ve been thrown out of way better places than this.

GLP: The bouncers are coming over. 

AAM: Oooh, scary.

GLP: They look angry.

AAM: Yeah? Well, watch this…

[Sound of chair legs scraping. Table flips. Recording ends.]

Macaque Attack is our 15th January in the UK, you can catch Gareth and Ack-Ack on tour (should you dare) at the following places:

15/01 – Forbidden Planet Bristol, 6-7pm 
16/01 – Forbidden Planet Cambridge, 6-7pm
17/01 – Forbidden Planet London – 1-2pm
21/01 – Forbidden Planet Southampton – 6-7pm
22/01 – Forbidden Planet Birmingham – 6-7pm
29/01 – Waterstones Liverpool 1 – an evening with Gareth L Powell from 6:30pm 

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Macaque Attack by Gareth L Powell preview

CHAPTER ONE
INSTANT KARMA

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” The driver’s sharp green eyes met Victoria’s in the rearview mirror and she looked away, twisting her gloved hands in her lap. She was being driven through Paris in a shiny black Mercedes. The parked cars, buildings and skeletal linden trees were bright and crisp beneath the winter sun.
“I think so.”
At the wheel, K8 shrugged. She was nineteen years old, with cropped copper hair and a smart white suit.
“Only…”
Victoria frowned, and brushed a speck of dust from the knee of her black trousers.
“Only what?”
“Should it be you that does it? Maybe somebody else—”
“She won’t listen to anybody else.”
“You don’t know that for sure.”
“I really do.”
They passed across the Pont Neuf. Sunlight glittered off the waters of the Seine. The towers of Notre Dame stood resolute against the sky, their solidity a direct counterpoint to the ephemeral advertising holograms that stepped and swaggered above the city’s boulevards and streets.
“Look,” Victoria said apologetically, “I didn’t mean to be snappy. I really appreciate you coming along. I know things haven’t been easy for you recently.”
K8 kept her attention focused on the road ahead.
“We are fine.”
“It must have been tough for you.” During the final battle over London, the poor kid had been assimilated into the Gestalt hive mind. For a time, she’d been part of a group consciousness, lost in a sea of other people’s thoughts.
“It was, but we’re okay now. Really.” There were no other members of the Gestalt on this parallel version of the Earth. For the first time since the battle, the girl was alone in her head.
“You’re still referring to yourself in the plural.”
“We can’t help it.”
The car negotiated the Place de la Bastille, and plunged into the narrow streets beyond. Their target lived in a two-room apartment on the third floor of a red brick house on the corner of la Rue Pétion. When they reached the address, Victoria instructed K8 to park the Mercedes at the opposite end of the avenue and wait. Then she got out and walked back towards the house.
With her hands in the pockets of her long army coat, she sniffed the cold air. This morning, Paris smelled of damp leaves and fresh coffee. Far away and long ago, on another timeline entirely, this had been her neighbourhood, her street. Even the graffiti tags scrawled between the shop-fronts seemed just as she remembered them from when she lived here as a journalist for Le Monde, in the days before she met Paul.
Paul…
Victoria squeezed her fists and pushed them deeper into her pockets. Paul was her ex-husband. In the three years since his death, he’d existed as a computer simulation. She’d managed to keep him alive, despite the fact that personality ‘back-ups’ were inherently unstable and prone to dissolution. Originally developed for battlefield use, back-ups had become a means by which the civilian deceased—at least those who could afford the implants—could say their goodbyes after death and tie up their affairs. The recordings weren’t intended or expected to endure more than six months but, with her help, Paul had already far exceeded that limit.
But nothing lasts forever.
During the past weeks, Paul’s virtual personality had become increasingly erratic and forgetful, and she knew he couldn’t hold out much longer. In order to preserve whatever run-time he might have left, she’d found a way to pause his simulation, leaving him frozen in time until her return. She didn’t want to lose him. In many ways, he was the love of her life; and yet she knew her attempts to hold on to him were only delaying the inevitable. Sooner or later, she’d have to let him go. Three years after his death, she’d finally have to say goodbye.
Scuffing the soles of her boots against the pavement, she wondered if the woman inhabiting the apartment above had anyone significant in her life. This woman still lived and worked as a reporter in Paris, was registered as single on her social media profile, and had somehow managed to avoid the helicopter crash that had left Victoria with a skull full of prosthetic gelware processors.
Victoria reached up and adjusted the fur cap covering her bald scalp.
This would have been my life, she thought, if I’d never met Paul, never gone to the Falklands…
She felt a surge of irrational hatred for the woman who shared her face, the stranger who had once been her but whose life had diverged at an unspecified point. Where had that divergence come? Who knew? A missed promotion, perhaps, or maybe something as banal as simply turning right when her other self had turned left… Now, they were completely different people. One of them was a newspaper correspondent living in a hip quarter of Paris, the other a battle-hardened skyliner captain in league with an army of dimension-hopping monkeys.
At the front door, she hesitated. How could she explain any of this?
For the past two years, she’d been travelling with Ack-Ack Macaque, jumping from one world to the next. Together, they’d sought out and freed as many of his simian counterparts as they could find, unhooking them from whichever video games or weapons guidance systems they’d been wired into, and telling them they were no longer alone, no longer unique—welcoming them into the troupe. But in all that time, on all those worlds, she’d never once sought out an alternate version of herself. The thought simply hadn’t occurred to her.
Here and now, though, things were different. K8 had tracked the most likely location of Ack-Ack Macaque’s counterpart on this world to an organisation known as the Malsight Institute. It was a privately funded research facility on the outskirts of Paris, surrounded by security fences and razor wire. While trying to hack its systems from outside, K8 had discovered a file containing a list of people the institute saw as ‘threats’ to their continued operation. Victoria’s counterpart had been the third person named on that list. Apparently, she’d been asking questions, probing around online, and generally making a nuisance of herself. The first two people on the list were already dead, their deaths part of an ongoing police investigation. One had been a former employee of the institute, the other an investigative journalist for an online news site. Both had been found stabbed and mutilated, their bodies charred almost beyond all recognition. Hence, the reason for this visit. If the deaths were connected to the Institute, Victoria felt duty-bound to warn her other self before the woman wound up as a headline on the evening news, her hacked and blackened corpse grinning from the smoking remains of a burned-out car.
From the pocket of her coat, she drew her house key. She’d kept the small sliver of brass and nickel with her for years, letting it rattle around in the bottom of one suitcase after another like a half-forgotten talisman. She’d never expected to need it again, but neither had she ever managed to quite bring herself to throw it away.
She slid the key into the lock and opened the door. Inside, the hallway was exactly as she remembered: black and white diamond-shaped floor tiles; a side table piled with uncollected mail, free newspapers and takeaway menus; and a black-railed staircase leading to the floors above. She closed the front door behind her and made her way up, her thick-soled boots making dull clumps on the uncarpeted steps.
The feel of the smooth bannister, the creak of the stairs, even the slightly musty smell of the walls brought back memories of a time that had been, in retrospect, happier and simpler.
In particular, she remembered an upstairs neighbour, a woman in her mid-forties with a taste for young men. Often, Victoria had found she had to turn up her TV to hide the bumps and giggles from above. One time, a lump of plaster fell off the ceiling and smashed her glass coffee table. Then, in the morning, there would usually be a young man standing in the communal stairwell. Some were lost, some shell shocked or euphoric. Some were reassessing their lives and relationships in the light of the previous night’s events. Victoria would take them in and make them coffee, call them cabs or get them cigarettes, that sort of thing.
She liked their company. In those days, she liked being useful. And sometimes, one of the boys would stay with her for a few days. They used her to wind down, to ground themselves. Sometimes, they just needed to talk. And when they left, as they inevitably did, it made her sad. She would rinse out their empty coffee mugs, clean the ashtrays, and fetch herself a glass of wine from the fridge. Then she would settle herself on the sofa again, rest her feet on the coffee table frame, and turn the TV volume way up.

Somebody screamed. The sound cut through her memories. It came from above. Reaching into her coat pocket, Victoria pulled the retractable fighting stick from her coat and shook it out to its full two-metre length. Was she already too late? Taking the stairs two at a time, she reached the third floor to find the door of the apartment—her apartment—locked, and fresh blood spreading from beneath it, soaking into the bristles of the welcome mat.
She’d been around the monkey long enough to know she’d only hurt herself if she tried shoulder-charging the door. Instead, she delivered a sharp kick with the heel of her heavy boot, aiming for the edge of door opposite the handle. The lock would be strong, but only a handful of screws held the hinges in place. She heard wood crack, but the door remained closed. Leaning backwards for balance, she kicked again. This time, the frame splintered, the hinges came away from the wall, and the door crashed inwards and to the side.
Victoria pushed through, stepping over the puddle of blood, and found herself on the threshold of a familiar-looking room. A body lay on the floor by the couch. It had shoulder-length blonde hair. A tall, thin man loomed over it, a long black knife in his almost skeletal hand. His shoes had left red prints on the parquet floor, and there was a long smear where he’d dragged the body. As she burst in, he looked up at her. His face was set in a rictus grin, and she swallowed back a surge of revulsion.
“Cassius Berg.”
His expression didn’t change, and she knew it couldn’t. His skin had been stretched taut over an artificial frame.
“Who are you?”
Victoria swallowed. She felt as if she was talking to a ghost. “The last time we met, I dropped you out of a skyliner’s cargo hatch, four hundred feet above Windsor.”
He tipped his head on one side. His eyes were reptilian slits.
“What are you on about?” He stepped over the corpse and brandished the knife. “Who are you?”
Victoria moved her staff into a defensive position.
“I’m her.”
She couldn’t bring herself to look directly at the body. As a reporter, she’d seen her share of violent crime scenes, and knew what to expect. Instead, she looked inside her own head, concentrating on the mental commands that transferred her consciousness from the battered remains of her natural cortex to the clean, bright clarity of her gelware implants.
Berg’s posture tightened. He glanced from her to the body, and back again.
“Twin sister?”
“Something like that.”
“Lucky me.”
The first time she’d fought him—or at least the version of him from her own parallel—he’d been superhumanly fast and tough, and he’d almost killed her. She’d been left for dead with a hole punched through the back of her skull. She tightened her grip on the metal staff. This time would be different. This time, she knew all about him, knew his methods and limitations, while he remained blissfully unaware of her capabilities.
Visualising her internal menu, she overclocked her neural processors. As the speed of her thinking increased, her perception of time stretched and slowed. The traffic noise from outside deepened, winding down like a faulty tape. In slow motion, she saw Berg’s muscles tense. His legs pushed up and he surged towards her, black coat flapping around behind him, knife held forward, aimed at her face. His speed was astonishing. A normal human would have been pinned through the eye before they could move. As it was, Victoria only just managed to spin aside. As momentum carried him past, she completed her twirl and brought the end of her staff cracking into the back of his head. The blow caught him off balance and sent him flailing forwards with an indignant cry, through the remains of the front door and out, into the hallway.
He ended up on his hands and knees. Victoria stepped up behind him, but before she could bring her staff down, Berg’s spindly arm slashed backwards, and his knife caught her across the shins, slicing through denim and skin. The pain registered as a sharp red alarm somewhere at the back of her mind, way down in the animal part of her brain, and she tried to ignore it. It was a distraction, the gelware told her, nothing more. Her heart thumped in her chest, each beat like the pounding of some great engine. He’d hurt her before; she wouldn’t allow him to hurt her again. She stabbed down with her staff, pinning his wrist to the hardwood floor, and leant her weight on it. She ground until she felt the bones of his hand snap and crack, and saw the knife fall from his fingers.
Berg’s head turned to look at her. Although the grin remained stretched across his face, his eyes were wide and fearful.
“Who are you?”
“I told you.” Victoria could feel blood running down her shins, soaking into the tops of her socks. She glanced back at the dead woman in the apartment, and saw blonde hair mixed with wine-coloured blood, and an out-thrown hand with torn and bruised knuckles. The poor woman hadn’t stood a chance. She’d been butchered, and all Victoria could do now was avenge her.
“I’m Victoria Valois.” She stepped forward and raised her weapon high over her head. She wanted to bring it down hard, driving the butt end into the space between his eyes. She wanted to feel his metal skull cave beneath her blow, feel his brains squish and perish. He had killed at least three people, probably more, and would kill her too if he got the chance.
He deserved to die.
And yet…

CHAPTER TWO
UNCLEAN ZOO

Taking off from a private airstrip on the outskirts of Paris, Victoria and K8 flew across the English Channel in a borrowed seaplane, with Cassius Berg handcuffed and gagged in the hold. They were heading for a sea fort that stood a few miles off the coast of Portsmouth. When the old structure came into sight, they splashed the plane into the waters of the Solent, carving a feather of white across the shimmering blue surface, and taxied to the rotting jetty that served as the fort’s one and only link with the outside world.
The seaplane was an ancient Grumman Goose: a small and ungainly contraption with which Victoria had somehow fallen grudgingly in love. The little aircraft had two chunky propeller engines mounted on an overhead wing, and the main fuselage dangled between them like a fat-bottomed boat bolted to the underside of a boomerang.
When she stepped from the plane’s hatch, Victoria found a monkey waiting for her, fishing from the end of the jetty. It wore a flowery sunhat and a string vest, and had a large silver pistol tucked into the waistband of its cut-off denim shorts. Overhead, the sun burned white and clean.
“I’m Valois.”
The monkey watched her from behind its mirrored shades. She couldn’t remember its name. A portable transistor radio, resting on the planks beside the bait bucket, played scratchy Europop.
“So?”
Behind the monkey, at the far end of the jetty, the fort rose as an implacable, curving wall of stone. Victoria swallowed back her irritation. The breeze blowing in from the sea held the all-too-familiar fragrances of brine, fresh fish, and childhood holidays. Considering it was November, the day felt exceptionally mild.
“Where’s your boss?”
“Does he know you’re coming?”
“Don’t be stupid.” She slipped off her flying jacket, pulled a red bandana from her trouser pocket, and wiped her forehead. Keeping hold of its rod with one hand, the monkey produced a rolled-up cigarette from behind its ear. The paper was damp and starting to unravel. It pushed the rollup between its yellowing teeth, and lit up using a match struck against the jetty’s crumbling planks.
“I don’t think he’ll want to see you.”
Smoke curled around it, blue in the sunlight. Victoria sighed, and raised her eyes to the armoured Zeppelin tethered to the fort’s radio mast.
“Is he up there?”
“Yeah, but he ain’t taking no visitors.”
“We’ll see about that.”
She went back to the Goose and pulled Berg out onto the jetty’s planks. He blinked against the sunlight. Victoria slipped a loop of rope around his neck, and jerked on it like a dog chain. Leaving K8 to secure the plane, she led her prisoner past the startled monkey, along the jetty, and into the coolness of the stone fort.
The corridors were dank with rainwater, and she was surprised to feel a sense of homecoming. Despite the frosty welcome, this little manmade island felt more like home than anywhere else on this timeline. She’d spent the past six weeks in Europe, but it hadn’t been her Europe. Everything about it had been different and, to her, somehow wrong. She looked forward to getting back to the familiar cabins and gangways of the armoured airship, and Paul.
Would he even remember her?
Dragging Berg, she stomped her way across the fort’s main flagstone courtyard.
Standing in the English Channel, several miles off the coast of the Isle of Wight, the circular fort had been built in the 19th century to defend Portsmouth from the French. Made of thick stone and surrounded by water on all sides, the structure had lain derelict until the turn of the millennium, when an enterprising developer had converted the stronghold into a luxury hotel and conference centre, complete with open-air swimming pool. Fifty years, and two stock market crashes, later, the weeds and rust had returned; and now that the place had been ‘liberated’ by the monkey army, it more resembled an unclean zoo than an exclusive resort. The water in the swimming pool lay brown and stagnant, its scummy surface speckled by shoals of empty beer cans and the wallowing bleach-white bones of broken patio furniture. Shards of glass littered the patio area.
The steps up to the base of the radio mast were where she remembered, still overgrown with lichen, grass and mould. The grass whispered against her leather boots, and she knew suspicious eyes watched her from the fort’s seemingly empty windows.
Stupid monkeys.
She’d only been gone six weeks.

Once aboard the airship, Victoria led Berg to the artificial jungle built into the vessel’s glass-panelled nose. Cut off from the rest of the craft by a thick brass door, this leafy enclosure formed Ack-Ack Macaque’s personal and private sanctuary and, at first, the monkeys guarding it didn’t want to let her in.
“He’s in a foul mood,” warned the one wearing a leather vest.
Victoria tugged at the rope around Berg’s neck, making him stumble forwards.
“He’ll be in a worse one by the time I’m through with him. Now, are you going to let me past or not?”
The monkeys exchanged glances. They knew who she was, yet were obviously nervous about troubling their leader. Finally the older of the two, a grey-muzzled macaque with a thick gold ring in his right ear, stood aside.
“Go ahead, ma’am.”
“Thank you.”
Victoria pushed open the heavy door and stepped inside. The chamber was a vast vault occupying the forward portion of the airship’s main hull. The floor had been covered in reed matting, on which stood hundreds of large ceramic pots. Palm trees and other jungle plants grew from the pots, forming a canopy overhead, and it took her a minute or so to make her way through the trees to the wooden verandah overlooking the interior of the craft’s glass bow. Birds and butterflies twitched hither and thither among the branches. The air smelled like the interior of a greenhouse.

Ack-Ack Macaque stood at the verandah’s rail, hands clasped behind his back and a fat cigar clamped in his teeth. He didn’t turn as Victoria walked up behind him.
“You’re back,” he said.
“I am.”
From where he stood, he could see the sea fort and the blue waters of the Channel.
“Any luck?”
“Some.”
She took her prisoner by the shoulder and pushed him down, into a kneeling position on the planks at his feet. Ack-Ack Macaque looked down with his one good eye.
“Who’s that?”
“Cassisus Berg.”
The monkey gave the man an experimental prod with his shoe.
“Didn’t you kill that fucker once already?”
“Not on this timeline.”
Ack-Ack frowned at her. Her face was pale despite her exertions, and her eyes were red and tired-looking. He could see she hadn’t slept well in several days. “And your other self? Did you find her?”
“We were too late.”
A wrought-iron patio table stood a little way along the verandah. Behind it stood a wheeled drinks cabinet filled with bottles of all shapes and sizes. Victoria left Berg kneeling where he was and walked over and helped herself to a vodka martini.
A parrot squawked in one of the higher branches, its plumage red against the canopy’s khaki and emerald.
Six weeks ago, Ack-Ack Macaque had tried to talk her out of getting involved with another version of herself but, predictably, she hadn’t listened—and he’d had more than enough to do trying to keep control of his monkey army. The problem with being the alpha monkey was that they all looked to him to tell them what to do and arbitrate all their pathetic squabbles. When faced with any kind of decision, they were more than happy to pass the responsibility up the chain of command until it dropped into his lap. It was the way primate troupes worked; it was also the way the military worked, and he didn’t like it. It was a pain in the hole. He was used to being a maverick, a grunt, an ace pilot rather than an Air Marshal. Being a leader cramped his style.
Considering the figure at his feet, he said, “What are we going to do with him?”
Victoria took a sip from the glass, and wiped her lips on the back of her gloved hand.
“He’s a cyborg, same as before. A human brain in an artificial body.”
Ack-Ack Macaque twitched his nostrils. The man smelled like an old, wet raincoat. He gave the guy a nudge and, arms still cuffed behind him, Berg tipped over onto his side.
“It’s definitely him, though?”
He watched as Victoria swirled the clear liquid in the bottom of her glass.
“Mais oui,” she said. “And you realise what this means, don’t you?”
Ack-Ack Macaque scowled at her.
“Should I?”
“It means Nguyen’s on this parallel, too.”
Ack-Ack Macaque’s hackles rose. His scowl turned to a snarl, and his fingers went to his hips, where two silver Colts shone in their holsters.
“Where is he?”
“Paris, I think. An operation calling itself the Malsight Institute. I had K8 pull up some information on it.”
“And?”
“Officially it doesn’t exist. There’s nothing about it until two years ago. Rumours, conspiracy theories, that sort of thing. Very secretive, government money. Black research. Heavy security.”
“Sounds familiar.”
“If he’s there, and he’s building another robot army, we have to stop him.”
Ack-Ack Macaque growled, deep in his throat. Doctor Nguyen had been the man responsible for creating them both in his laboratories—their own personal Frankenstein. He took the cigar from his lips and rolled it in his fingers.
“We leave in an hour,” he decided. He was overdue for some action, and, after spending the last six weeks trying to sort out the complaints and squabbles of a troupe of irritable, irresponsible monkeys, he was itching to bust some skulls. “Reactivate your husband and recall the crew.”
“What are you going to do?”
“What do you think I’m going to do?” His lips curled back, revealing his sharp yellow fangs. He clamped the cigar back between his teeth. Leathery fingers bunched into fists. “If Nguyen’s here, I’m going to grab the bastard by the ears and rip his fucking head off.”

Macaque Attack is out January 2015
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A day in the life of the Solaris PR department

The story that follows is a totally, 100% typical day in the life of our PR department.

Publishing overlord Ben Smith summons the PR department. “There’s been a delivery,” he says “it’s got your name on it,” he says.

There’s something about his smile… the fear in the department is tangible.

The walk down to reception seems to take forever. Then there it is.

The box.

Oh god, it’s huge.

“I said 5’6!” PR cries.
“Maybe it’s just a trick of the light,” editorial offers up.

As the un-boxing commences PR nervously retreats into a corner, rocking gently.

“No, wait! It’s not that bad. In fact it looks great!” editorial coaxes.

Shuffling gently forward the beautiful object contained within the box is slowly revealed, and PR’s mood rapidly shifts from “Shitshitshit they’re totally going to fire me for this” to “Take my photo with the monkey. Take my photo with the monkey.”

Rapidly followed by “Hey wait, no you didn’t let me sort out my lipstick.”

If you’d like your photo with Ack Ack Macaque catch him on tour with his pet author Gareth L Powell from January next year. We’ll even let you brush your hair first.

Thursday 15th January, 6:00 pm – Forbidden Planet Bristol Megastore
Friday 16th January, 6:00 pm – Forbidden Planet Cambridge Store
Saturday 17th January 1:00 pm – Forbidden Planet London Megastore
Wednesday 21st January, 6:00 pm – Forbidden Planet Southampton Megastore
Thursday 22nd January, 6:00 pm – Forbidden Planet Birmingham Store
Thursday 29th January, 6:30 pm – Waterstones Liverpool 1
 Waterstones Liverpool 1

Macaque Attack by Gareth L Powell publishes January 2015.

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