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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Flotsam Prison Blues by M. K. Gibson (Reviewed by Charles Phipps)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of To Beat The Devil

AUTHOR INFORMATION: In his own words: "Hi, I'm Mike Gibson (Gib or Gibby to my friends). I'm a father, husband, writer and a retired US Air Force MSgt with 20 years of service. Back in 1980, when I was 5, I saw the animated version of The Hobbit and was a geek from then on. All I have ever wanted to do was to write and tell stories. I live with my wife, son, 2 dogs and cat in Mt Airy, Maryland.

I love to read, play video games, exercise and watch movies. I'm a lover of all things geek and I'm a highly opinionated, socially/politically neutral person. I feel those who live and die by a brand, or party, are doomed to fail as human beings. I also mock those who refuse to let go of the Oxford comma."

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A couple of months have passed since the cyborg smuggler known as Salem led a small team in the violent coup that brought down Abraxas, demon Archduke of New Golgotha’s central kingdom of Ars Goetia. From the destruction, Salem became a hero, whether he wanted to be one or not, and was appointed the first human baron in the demon-run supercity.

But Hell does not like being made to look foolish--or weak. And Salem’s actions, while noble, have consequences. A victory for man means a defeat for Hell. A single question will be asked of Salem: How far can a hero fall? The powers of Hell are willing to find out.

Flotsam Prison Blues is the gritty, exciting sequel to To Beat The Devil. Following an assassination attempt by a rocket-launching madman, Salem must untangle a web of lies, theft, and conspiracies, lest his new world, and his citizens, burn. Follow Salem’s adventures as he is forced to relive the parts of his past he wanted to stay buried while once more pitting himself against the might of Hell. Salem will need all his strength and skill as he suffers the Hell-on-Earth horrors of Flotsam Prison.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Flotsam Prison Blues is To Beat The Devil's sequel. It was a humorous buddy comedy and action movie set in a post-apocalypse cyberpunk dystopia ruled by demons (quite the contrast there). I enjoyed it a great deal and thus was eager to get back to its cyberpunk dystopian world.

Whereas the first book was a crime movie, this is a prison film (as the title indicates). Watching Salem get himself locked up by demonkind and being forced to confront his past sins is an interesting situation as our (anti)hero seemed all but untouchable last book.

Salem is a great protagonist, being a wise-cracking rogue with a serious maturity problem. Despite this, the previous book indicated he was a lot deeper character than he let on. This is finally elaborated on as we get flashbacks to what Salem did during the wars between humanity and demonkind. Suffice to say, it wasn't pretty and watching our protagonist do the things he did is sometimes hard.

Indeed, the Reynolds (as Salem was known then), portions of the book are probably the most interesting. Reynolds is a repulsive alter-ego for our protagonist but you can understand his point of view. Knowing humanity has no chance of being able to win against demonkind, he's chosen to assist the infernal in hopes of securing the best conditions for both himself as well as humanity as a whole. Finding out your protagonist is a collaborator is a bold choice by Michael Gibson and one I would love to learn more about. I also enjoyed the insight into the demonic politics which form a surprisingly large portion of the book's world-building. With God having abandoned the world and humanity firmly under thumb, it's a question of who is the least terrible option for Salem and company to ally with.

Our heroes can't directly fight the demon's influence so they have to play the game and this means dealing with allies who are inherently untrustworthy. It's kind of hilarious, in the dark and twisted way the book excels at, that Salem is gotten for a combination of tax evasion and the fact his subjects are parasites. The book also introduces a number of interesting supporting cast members like Chael the semi-mindless giant living on Flotsam Prison Island's outskirts and the fallen angel known as the Warden. There's other characters who also show up to tease and pester Salem like his former lover, the Warden's Nephilim son, and a number of Demon Lords who think Salem has reached too high a status for a dirty-dirty mortal.

CONCLUSION: Flotsam Prison Blues is an excellent urban fantasy science fiction story which mixes elements of both liberally. The supporting cast of the books is growing quite a bit and all of them are interesting in their own way. Those who like wisecracks mixed with their drama and gonzo worlds will find this a great book to relax to.

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