Ian Hocking’s Saskia Brandt Series

Ian_HockingAbout the author:

Born: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Education:

BSc- Psychology- University of Exeter, Exeter UK

MSc- Psychology Research Methods- University of Exeter, Exeter UK

PhD- Psycholinguist- University of Exeter, Exeter UK

Website: http://ianhocking.com/

Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-thriller

Publisher: Unsung Stories and self-published

Future of the Series: Hocking has recently received rights for his second and third book in the series, Flashback and The Amber Rooms, and both are now available for purchase. The novella Red Star Falling has been integrated with the newest edition of The Amber Rooms. Hocking does plan to continue the series but it may be awhile.

The Simon Review

Ian Hocking’s Saskia Brandt series was originally self-published, but has recently been acquired by a small publisher known as Unsung Stories that is an imprint of Red Squirrel Publishing and is based in London.  Unsung Stories publishes novels that fall in a mixed genre that primarily includes science fiction, horror, fantasy, cyberpunk, and several others.  The first book in the series, Déjà Vu was originally published in 2005 but was re-released last year through Unsung Stories.  Though there are three books in the series so far, Déjà Vu is the only one that is presently available for purchase as Unsung Stories is working on trying to publish the other two books in the series, Flashback and The Amber Rooms.  So for right now my review will only be on Déjà Vu and I will review the other additions to the series as they become available.

Déjà Vu is a techno-thriller that deals with mind control through brain implants and also the concept of time travel.  Both are interesting topics by themselves but when both subjects are brought together in a novel, it creates a plot that is rather challenging to read.  With that being said, I found that the first quarter of Déjà Vu to be rather confusing, but don’t let that discourage you, because everything begins to make sense as the story moves along.  As you continue to read you find that the main character, Saskia Brandt, is just as confused as you, because she finds that she has another personality that has been hidden through mind control. Brandt is told that her other personality is a criminal who committed unconscionable atrocities and she has been given a new persona as a detective. She must now prove that she can be trusted to do a job that she is given or otherwise face death.  Her mission is to locate and apprehend Professor David Proctor, who has been accused of killing his friend and colleague, Bruce Shimoda.

As Brandt works on her investigation, she finds that part of her previous life is trying to break through her mental block induced by a brain implant, as she is given brief glimpses into her past. Brandt struggles with her identity, not quite feeling comfortable being Saskia Brandt, whose personality is programmed through the implant and, yet at the same time, she is frightened of the person that she may have once been. She also struggles with her assignment as the evidence indicates that things are not what they seem and that David Proctor maybe a victim instead of a criminal.

This is a fast paced and fun techno-thriller but Hocking’s style of writing may not be for everyone.  Déjà Vu is mentally stimulating and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

What about the science? Both time travel and mind control implants are considered theoretically possible to achieve. In fact, we are not that far off from being able to control the mind of another through implants and it definitely may be possible by 2023, which is the time frame for Déjà Vu. Time travel on the other hand, is considerably more difficult to accomplish as it would be necessary to be able to travel close to the speed of light which according to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity would slow down time. A traveler going at the speed of light could return to Earth a short time later, like say a month, and years would have passed on Earth, so a traveler would arrive in Earth’s future.  Of course, we are not even close to building a spaceship that could travel at the speed of light, so time travel is not something that is going to happen anytime soon.

The Saskia Brandt Technical Word in Review: Gravity Waves- I chose this technical word because it is a term that is often confused with a very similar term known as gravitational waves. Gravity waves are also known as buoyancy waves and are based in fluid dynamics. Gravity waves exist in our atmosphere and occurs when a disturbance develops between the boundaries of two stable layers of fluid of different densities. A wave forms at the boundary of the two fluids because gravity attempts to restore the equilibrium between the layers. The best example would be dropping a rock into a pond. The rock causes a disturbance in the boundary between the water of the pond and the air above it which results in ripples known as gravity waves.

gravity_waves
An Example of Gravity Waves – Wikipedia

Gravitational waves, on the other hand, is based on perturbations in the fabric of space and time and was predicted in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Gravitational waves have never been detected but there has been some indirect evidence that they occur. Gravitational waves may occur when two accelerating massive bodies collide such as the collision of two black holes or neutron stars. The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large scale experiment that is a collaborative effort between Cal Tech, MIT and other major universities to attempt to find these elusive waves. Recent upgrades with LIGO may prove to be the turning point in the final proof that gravitational waves do exist. (Update: LIGO has now proven that gravitational waves do exist in a 2/11/16 news release.)

gravitational_waves
A Theoretical Example of Gravitational Waves- Wikimedia Commons

In the following passage, Hocking uses the term gravity waves when, in fact, I am sure he meant gravitational waves as that is the only thing that I could imagine ripping the Higgs Field.

The larger centrifuge, in the lowest tier of the cavern, was called Giver. Taker was the smaller one alongside. When both rotated, the proximity of their masses produced gravitational fluctuations. These were amplified and shaped by a machine called a ‘carbon focuser’. Jennifer’s genius had been to create such positive interference in gravity waves as to rip the Higgs Field. Déjà Vu

Books in the Series by Order:

Most Favorite in the series: Flashback with a score of 3.81

Least Favorite in the series: The Amber Rooms with a score of 3.60

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Barnes and Nobles, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

deja vu#1-Déjà Vu- 2005

Listed #534 out of 549 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

First Line:

Saskia Brandt emerged from the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate.


Characters

Saskia Brandt: A detective with the European FIB

David Proctor: A scientist that works on artificial intelligence

John Crane: An elusive figure that we really don’t get to know until the ending

Jenny Proctor: David Proctor’s daughter and also a scientist

Philip Jago: Also a detective and Brandt’s partner on the Proctor case

Bruce Shimoda: Scientist and David Proctor’s friend and colleague


The Setting

England, Germany, and Las Vegas


In the year 2023 Saskia Brandt, detective with the European FIB, comes back from holiday newly single, tired and full of sadness. Heading straight back to the office she finds no peace, only her receptionist dead and no suspects. Given only 12 hours to clear her name she sets to work on unravelling the mystery, one that proves greater than the sum of its parts.

David Proctor is just an academic eating his breakfast until he gets a phone-call telling him the prototype computer – Ego – he has been loaned is now the only one left. Meanwhile someone has broken into his house, someone who wants him to go back to the lab where his wife died in a bomb attack 20 years before.

As the mysteries and intrigue envelop Saskia and David they are forced to unpick their own pasts. Because in Déjà Vu you find that things aren’t as they seem, truth is a matter of perspective and that the past can change just as quickly as the future.


John Crane was an anonymous figure in the anonymous corridors. A few civilians and scientist recognized him as he passed. They stared. The military personnel did not. Eventually he reached the central column, itself the size of a tower block, then headed down to the lowest level, where he stopped before a large blue door. Above it was the symbol of the base: the serpent entwining the Rod of Asclepius. Below, sprayed in white paint, was ‘Project N83261’. Underneath this, in magic marker, someone had written:

We like to call it “Déjà Vu”.

And underneath that:

But you knew that already. 

Crane stepped through.


Looking for a review of Déjà Vu?  Check out:

Book Hostage

Eye of the Storm

Speculiction

Kanti Burns, Book Reviews and More..

Reading 1000 Lives

SFCrowsNest

The Write SF

So Many Books, So Little Time

Exquisite Corpse

Books Come First

Jaffalogue

Dave Reviewed It

MarzAat


Amazon Rating-US: 4.09 out of 5 stars based on 110 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.20 out of 5 stars based on 168 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.44 out of 5 stars based on 608 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: not rated

Library Thing Rating: 3.61 out of 5 stars based on 37 ratings

Total Score 3.66 (updated 8/4/16)

 

laptop

 

Flashback#2-Flashback- 2011

Listed #236 out of 549 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

Listed #167 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

My review of Flashback

First Line:

Following the crash of commercial flight DFU323, the Regensburg authorities sent requests for assistance to the Federal Ministry of Transport, who engaged the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation.


Characters

Saskia Brandt and Jenny Proctor

Jem Shaw: Enters into Saskia’s life to cheat her, then becomes her friend

Richard Cory: Nemesis from the future

Danny Shaw: Jem’s brother


The Setting

Germany, and Argentina


In 1947 a Santiago-bound plane crashes into the Andes minutes after confirming its landing time.

In 2003 a passenger plane nosedives into the Bavarian National Forest during a routine flight.

Although separated by more than 50 years, these tragedies are linked by seven letters:

S, T, E, N, D, E, C.

On board Flight DFU323 in 2003 is Saskia Brandt – a woman who holds the answers to the many puzzles of the two flights and who knows she must survive in order to prevent a catastrophic chain of events stretching well into the future.

But Saskia is not the only one to know this. She is being followed and her life is in danger – inside and outside of the plane.

Filled with twists and turns as it trips skillfully through time, Flashback is a gripping technothriller that reaches more than fifty years into our past – and one hundred years into our future – to solve the enigmas of the doomed Star Dust and Flight DFU323.

But is it enough to solve the enigma that is Saskia Brandt?


Looking for a review of Flashback?  Check out:

Book Hostage


Amazon Rating-US: 3.88 out of 5 stars based on 25 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.41 out of 5 stars based on 70 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.64 out of 5 stars based on 237 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: not rated

Library Thing Rating: 3.58 out of 5 stars based on 13 ratings

Total Score 3.81 (Updated 4/18/17)

 

Black hole

 

Amber_Rooms#3-The Amber Rooms- 2012

My review of The Amber Rooms

First Line:

The Turkish merchantman Theodorus sailed south through the Strait of Kerch towards the Black Sea.


Characters

Saskia Brandt


The Setting

Russia


It is the night of September 5th, 1907, and the Moscow train is approaching St Petersburg. Traveling first class appears to be a young Russian princess and her fiancé. They are impostors. In the luggage carriage are the spoils of the Yerevan Square Expropriation, the greatest bank heist in history. The money is intended for Finland, and the hands of a man known to the Tsarist authorities as The Mountain Eagle–Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.


There is a realm, perhaps only imagined, of many Amber Rooms. Their walls are translucent. Through them, Saskia can see the outline of still more Amber Rooms, overlapping into infinity.


Looking for a review of The Amber Rooms?  Check out:

Book Hostage


Amazon Rating-US: 4.17 out of 5 stars based on 12 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 3.52 out of 5 stars based on 23 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.51 out of 5 stars based on 76 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: not rated

Library Thing Rating: 3.20 out of 5 stars based on 5 ratings

Total Score 3.60  (updated 8/4/16)

 

mathematics

 

Red_Star_Falling#3.5-Red Star Falling- 2013

Red Star Falling has now been integrated with the newest addition of The Amber Rooms.

First Line:

In the moment before Saskia Brandt awoke, she had a vision of red chrysanthemums falling.


Characters

Saskia Brandt


In 2028, a mysterious group known as Meta begins sending agents back through time. Nobody knows who these time travellers are, or their purpose.

Exactly 120 years earlier, murdered agent Saskia Brandt opens her eyes in a Geneva mortuary locker. Medical technology from 2028 has given her a few more hours of life.

Completing her mission will take her to the north face of the Eiger—treacherous, unclimbed, enshadowed—and a reckoning with a Georgian outlaw, Soso: the man who killed her.


Looking for a review of Red Star Falling?  Check out:

Book Hostage


Amazon Rating: not rated

GoodReads Rating: 3.80 out of 5 stars based on 15 ratings

Barnes & Nobel Rating: not rated

Library Thing Rating: 3.17 out of 5 stars based on 3 ratings

Total Score 3.72