Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Fictional Man - Al Ewing

Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Solaris
Age Group:  Adult
Pages: 336
Format: e-book

Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an hones review

Hollywood: Niles Golan is writing a remake of a camp-classic spy movie. The studio has plans for a franchise, so rather than hiring an actor, the protagonist will be 'translated' into a cloned human body.

It's common practice - Niles' therapist is a Fictional. So is his best friend. So, maybe, is the woman in the bar he can't stop staring at. Fictionals are a part of daily life now, especially in LA.

In fact, it's getting hard to tell who's a Fictional and who's not...

Funny, clever, profound and moving, The Fictional Man is set to be Al Ewing's break-through novel.


I knew when I started this book it would be well outside my comfort zone. I mostly read (and enjoy) High/Epic Fantasy and the occasional SciFi or Horror book. I sensed “The Fictional Man” would be something I couldn’t stash in one particular genre and that it would be different than what I’d normally read. However, I was intrigued by the idea of ‘Fictionals’ walking among ordinary people and how it would affect normal life.

Al Ewing takes us to an alternative LA where most movies don’t have a star actor anymore, but a Fictional, a person specifically written out and made to fit a certain role. Imagine Sherlock Holmes dashing around or Katniss from the Hunger Games buying groceries in the store around the corner. And I’m not talking about someone portraying these characters, no, I’m talking about the actual characters, taken from the pages and brought to life in a cloned human body.
The main character is Niles Golan, an author with a huge ego and whose life is a complete train wreck. He’s tasked with rewriting a spy movie and although he’d love to see his own books adapted for the big screen (and have his character made as a fictional), he takes this opportunity with both hands. His best friend is a Fictional, so is his ‘therapist’ and he wants to create a fictional. You’d think he’s a big Fictional-loving man. But he’s not.

It was really interesting to see this story develop. The story itself (and especially the rewrite of the movie) isn’t that important. This book makes you think about the ethics of cloning people, about how the reaction to these persons may be. It confronts you with the prejudices of the common people towards the Fictionals. It introduces you to how certain Fictionals might feel and how diverse even that is. Throughout the story we can see a change in Niles. At the end of the book he’s not the same Niles we got to know in the first part of the book.
It’s the little things that hint at these changes. For instance, Niles has some sort of inner voice that makes up scenarios as he goes through life. Obviously, Niles is always the hero, the stronger man, the bad-ass in these made up stories and obviously it never works out that way. But the more the book continuous, the more the tone of this narrative, inner voice begins to change.

As I said in the beginning, this book was not really in my comfort zone and it’s not a book I’ll probably reread some years from now, but it was very interesting to read nonetheless. It has a very ethical-debate, psychological tone going on and I like to read these sort of books occasionally.

All in all, not entirely my cup of tea, but interesting enough to keep me hooked. 

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