The Beasts of Electra Drive
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English

From Hollywood Hills mansions and Century City towers, to South Central motels and the oceanside refinery, "The Beasts of Electra Drive" by Rohan Quine spans a mythic L.A., following seven spectacular characters (or Beasts) from games designer Jaymi's game-worlds. The intensity of those Beasts' creation cycles leads to their release into real life in seemingly human forms, and to their combative protection of him from destructive rivals at mainstream company Bang Dead Games. Grand spaces of beauty interlock with narrow rooms of terror, both in the real world and in the incorporeal world of cyberspace. A prequel to Quine's other five tales (and a Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards 2018), "The Beasts of Electra Drive" is a unique explosion of glamour and beauty, horror and enchantment, exploring the mechanisms and magic of creativity itself.

Jaymi is an independent games designer living on Electra Drive in the Hollywood Hills. Opposed to him are his former colleagues at Bang Dead Games. Their mounting competitiveness regarding his own extravagant game-creation reaches a point where they attack him physically with a flying drone.

Bang Dead is preparing the global release of a game called "Ain'tTheyFreaky!", centring on five tabloid-flavoured social-media "Newsfeeds" for the victimisation of certain people by others - the "Gal Score", "Guy Score", "Trivia Score", "Arts Score" and "Cosy Score". Jaymi decides to fight back, for self-protection and to counteract this game's destructive effects.

He takes an irrevocable step: after creating Amber, the most dangerous of the characters (or Beasts, as he calls them) who will populate Jaymi's project "The Platinum Raven", he releases Amber from that game, such that Amber slithers out of Jaymi's computer monitor. Appearing human, this now-incarnated Beast is sent to stalk "Ain'tTheyFreaky!'s" creators in real life - developer Dud Guy, visual designer Kelly, IT boss Ashley and programmer Herb.

While Amber terrorises them, Jaymi creates a second Beast, Evelyn, a woman of ease and freedom, from his project "The Imagination Thief". Incarnated too, she joins Amber in sabotaging a Bang Dead venture in the physical world.

As Jaymi's output spawns three more titles - "The Host in the Attic", "Apricot Eyes" and "Hallucination in Hong Kong" - he jumps into the creation cycles and subsequent incarnations of five more varied and human-seeming Beasts. These are Shigem, Kim, the Platinum Raven, Scorpio, and his own simulacrum the Jaymi Beast.

Targeted by a more lethal drone attack than the first one, he decides that his Beasts' missions must escalate: they will infiltrate the very substance of "Ain'tTheyFreaky!". Evelyn, Shigem and Kim therefore sneak into one of the game's visual environments (a mythically seedy Downtown L.A.), where they try to put an end to some of the casually-programmed cruelty in the game. Shigem shames one Bang Dead programmer into secretly working for Jaymi instead; and Kim persuades another high-ranking Bang Dead employee to join Jaymi likewise.

Five of the Beasts proceed to sabotage "Ain'tTheyFreaky!" at code level, turning its own server farm into a radically different kind of environment from before. Their sabotage takes aim at the game in such a way as to break it down into its constituent glyphs and pixels - then electrifies these, recombining them into brand-new forms of such enchanted love and wickedness and originality that they'd certainly have been forbidden by Bang Dead.

Amid the resultant conflict, a Beast is sent to kill a human; a Beast is arrested, before escaping and wreaking revenge; and another human is lashed to the top of the transmitter tower above the Hollywood Sign, where...

After the ensuing convulsions of destruction and violent creation have run their course, Jaymi's Beasts slip away to their appointed onscreen destinations, one by one; and he is left alone again, just as he was before he brought them into being. As he fires up his newly-completed game "The Imagination Thief" for the first time, however, it is clear that neither he nor the world around him will ever quite be as before.

English

Rohan Quine is an author of literary fiction with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror. He grew up in South London, spent a couple of years in L.A. and then a decade in New York, where he ran around excitably, saying a few well-chosen words in various feature films and TV shows, such as "Zoolander", "Election", "Oz", "Third Watch", "100 Centre Street", "The Last Days of Disco", "The Basketball Diaries", "Spin City" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (see www.rohanquine.com/those-new-york-nineties/film-tv). He’s now living back in East London, with his boyfriend and two happy free-roaming house rabbits - a white down-ears and a black up-ears.

His novel THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE (a Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards 2018) is a prequel to his other five tales, and a good place to start. See www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-beasts-of-electra-drive-reviews-media for reviews by "Kirkus", "Bookmuse", "Bending the Bookshelf" and others. From Hollywood mansions to South Central motels, havoc and love are wrought across a mythic L.A., through the creations of games designer Jaymi, in a unique explosion of glamour and beauty, horror and enchantment, celebrating the magic of creativity itself.

In addition to its paperback format, his novel THE IMAGINATION THIEF is available as an ebook that contains links to film and audio and photographic content in conjunction with the text. See www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-imagination-thief-reviews-media for some nice reviews in "The Guardian", "Bookmuse", "indieBerlin" and elsewhere. It’s about a web of secrets triggered by the stealing and copying of people’s imaginations and memories, the magic that can be conjured by images of people, the split between beauty and happiness, and the allure of power.

Four novellas - THE PLATINUM RAVEN, THE HOST IN THE ATTIC, APRICOT EYES and HALLUCINATION IN HONG KONG - are published as separate ebooks, and also as a single paperback THE PLATINUM RAVEN AND OTHER NOVELLAS. See www.rohanquine.com/press-media/the-novellas-reviews-media for reviews of these novellas, including by Iris Murdoch, James Purdy, "Lambda Book Report" and "New York Press". Hunting as a pack, all four delve deep into the beauty, darkness and mirth of this predicament called life, where we seem to have been dropped without sufficient consultation ahead of time.

All titles are also available in audiobook and video-book format, performed by the author.

www.rohanquine.com

"Rohan Quine is one of the most original voices in the literary world today – and one of the most brilliant." - Guardian Books blogger Dan Holloway, who included Quine’s "The Imagination Thief" on his list of the six "best self-published books of the decade"

"A sensual ballet of rich characterisation, alluring subtlety and originality. 'The Beasts of Electra Drive' is a novel that I didn't want to put down while I was reading it. [...] I found myself underlining things on the page, throughout it, because of the allure of Quine's language. I was fascinated with the marriage of his vocabulary and his punctuation. [...] This book creates a luscious and sensuous effect, which you can expand into." - Suzi Rapport

"The swooping eloquence of this book ['The Imagination Thief'] had me hypnotised. Quine leaps into pools of imagery, delighting in what words can do. The fact that the reader is lured into joining this kaleidoscopic, elemental ballet marks this out as something fresh and unusual. In addition to the language, two other elements make their mark. The seaside ghost town with echoes of the past and the absorbing, varied and rich cast of characters. It’s a story with a concept, place and people you’ll find hard to leave." - JJ Marsh in "Bookmuse"

"Quine is renowned for his rich, inventive and original prose, and he is skilled at blending contemporary and ancient icons and themes." - Debbie Young in "Vine Leaves Literary Journal"

English

Table of Contents of "The Beasts of Electra Drive" by Rohan Quine


PART I. AMBER’S CREATION, BANG DEAD GAMES, AND THE LONE VIOLINIST
1. The lone violinist in the woodlands at dusk (Ghost, as Hook)
2. The terrace pool at the house on Electra Drive
3. Here come the Beasts, up the slopes of the canyons
4. Declaration of war by the Dreary Ones (Inciting Event)
5. "Ain’tTheyFreaky!" by Bang Dead Games
6. Jaymi conceives his game "The Platinum Raven"
7. Development and basics in the Avenue of the Stars tower
8. Infrastructure and stress-balls in the Avenue of the Stars tower
9. Jaymi creates Amber’s code
10. Visuals and laughter in the Sunset Boulevard building
11. Coding and khaki in the Sunset Boulevard building
12. Jaymi creates Amber’s appearance
13. Jaymi’s games "The Imagination Thief" and "The Host in the Attic"
14. Jaymi incarnates Amber (First Doorway of No Return)

PART II. "GAL SCORE", EVELYN’S CREATION, AND THE STALKING OF THE DREARY ONES
15. Amber incarnate in the house on Electra Drive
16. The Hollywood cafe on Cahuenga Boulevard
17. The "Gal Score: Babe or Gross?" Newsfeed
18. Jaymi creates Evelyn’s code
19. The Silver Lake bar on Hyperion Avenue
20. How very concerning - did you report it?
21. Herb hacks Evelyn’s code
22. Herb at home in the Westwood Village cottage
23. Jaymi creates Evelyn’s appearance
24. Amber stalks Ashley through the motel by LAX
25. Evelyn’s appearance comes alive
26. Kelly smudges Evelyn
27. Kelly at home in the Factory Place loft
28. Jaymi creates Evelyn’s soundtrack
29. Ashley at home in the Century Park East apartment
30. Evelyn’s soundtrack comes alive
31. Amber stalks Dud at work
32. Jaymi test-drives Evelyn
33. Kelly tails Amber through the Hollywood Hills
34. Jaymi incarnates Evelyn
35. Ashley and Dud attack Evelyn (First Pinch Point)

PART III. "GUY SCORE" AND "TRIVIA SCORE", SHIGEM’S AND KIM’S CREATIONS, AND THE RIGHTEOUS GUN COCKPIT
36. The "Guy Score: Hunk or Gross?" Newsfeed
37. Jaymi creates Shigem’s code
38. Amber with binoculars on Sunset Plaza Drive
39. Shigem emerges within his code
40. Herb hacks Shigem’s code
41. The infinity pool at the Blue Jay Way house
42. Jaymi creates Shigem’s appearance
43. The severed grey tongue-meat swinging round the football
44. Shigem’s appearance comes alive
45. Kelly smudges Shigem
46. The "Trivia Score: Wacky or Boring?" Newsfeed
47. Jaymi creates Kim’s code
48. Herb hacks Kim’s code
49. Evelyn, tiny in the face of the deluge
50. Jaymi creates Kim’s appearance
51. Kelly smudges Kim
52. Sun-glare and skinny palms in Westmont, South Central
53. Jaymi creates Shigem’s and Kim’s soundtrack
54. The Righteous Gun Cockpit, from Bang Dead Games
55. Jaymi test-drives Shigem and Kim
56. Amber’s eyes in the photo of the motel by the vacant lot
57. Jaymi incarnates Shigem and Kim
58. Ashley and Dud attack Shigem
59. Evelyn’s eyes in the photo of the motel by the liquor store
60. Ashley and Dud attack Kim
61. Kim on the canyon by Hercules Drive
62. Dud shocked in the motel by the liquor store
63. Dud shocked in the motel by the vacant lot
64. Dud’s ghastly photo opportunity
65. Jaymi refines Shigem
66. Lethal attack, understanding and despair (Midpoint)

PART IV. "ARTS SCORE", THE PLATINUM RAVEN’S CREATION, AND ELEVATING DOWNTOWN L.A.
67. The "Arts Score: Simple-Smiley or Complex-Frowny?" Newsfeed
68. Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven’s code
69. Herb hacks the Platinum Raven’s code
70. Three Beasts sneak into Herb’s computer
71. Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven’s appearance
72. KitKat and Krispy Kreme dramas in Downtown
73. The Platinum Raven’s appearance comes alive
74. Kelly smudges the Platinum Raven
75. This Downtown L.A. is a more peculiar one than most
76. Jaymi creates the Platinum Raven’s soundtrack
77. The street queens of Violet Street
78. The Platinum Raven’s soundtrack comes alive
79. Hatred across the L.A. River: a cruel and stupid world
80. Jaymi test-drives the Platinum Raven
81. Shigem shames Herb
82. Jaymi incarnates the Platinum Raven
83. A unicorn’s-horn of invention by Herb
84. The Platinum Raven’s mission to Blue Jay Way
85. Ashley and Dud attack the Platinum Raven (Second Pinch Point)

PART V. "COSY SCORE", SCORPIO’S CREATION, AND THE BEASTS GO REPURPOSING
86. The underground server farm beyond LAX
87. The Platinum Raven in the house on Zeus Drive
88. The "Cosy Score: Normal-Comfy or Strange-Scary?" Newsfeed
89. Jaymi creates Scorpio’s code
90. Kim shames Ashley
91. Scorpio emerges within his code
92. Feint of a hack into Scorpio’s code
93. Jaymi proposes the repurposing to Herb
94. Jaymi creates Scorpio’s appearance
95. Scorpio’s appearance comes alive
96. Talking of meat
97. Kelly smudges Scorpio
98. Jaymi creates Scorpio’s soundtrack
99. Jaymi test-drives Scorpio
100. Jaymi instructs the Beasts for the repurposing
101. Jaymi incarnates Scorpio
102. Amber’s mission in the El Segundo refinery
103. The Platinum Raven’s mission on Avion Drive, LAX
104. The Beasts converge on Sandpiper Street
105. The club night in the server farm
106. Amber heading east on a mission to murder
107. Victory and disaster (Second Doorway of No Return)

PART VI. THE JAYMI BEAST'S CREATION, BATTLE AND TRANSCENDENCE
108. Dud’s bad morning
109. Police romance and the apex predator
110. Feint of a co-attack on Scorpio
111. Scorpio as succubus in the house on Jupiter Drive
112. The weak tan figure and the vast tornado
113. Jaymi’s games "Apricot Eyes" and "Hallucination in Hong Kong"
114. Jaymi creates the Jaymi Beast’s code and appearance
115. Jaymi incarnates the Jaymi Beast
116. From Mulholland Highway to the Hollywood Sign
117. Transcendence, vengeance and fierce beauty: the private screening (Climax)
118. Torment on Mount Lee (Climax)
119. One apart (Climax)
120. Bridge to "The Imagination Thief" (Resolution)

English

“Technologically intelligent, socially clever, and supernaturally chilling—a trippy sci-fi tale. […]
There is a strong artistic element woven into this act of creation, allowing us to see how and why Jaymi creates each of his Beasts, giving them purpose and personality as well as form. […] This is a book that would have been entirely serviceable with just the hacking and virtual reality interfaces, but what makes it really compelling is the ability for Jaymi's Beasts to step out into meat-space (I love that term) and take on corporeal form. These characters grow, learn, and even challenge their programming—they are somewhat childish in their willful independence, to the point of being sociopaths, although they demonstrate real emotion. There is some wonderful genderfluidity to some of the Beasts, with Shigem never feeling ‘quite like a boy, being half a gender to the left’ and Scorpio whose ‘nature flowers with so transgender a beauty,’ as well as a gay love affair between two Beasts who were created for one another. Lest you forget that this is a revenge fantasy, however, Amber is modeled after Rutger Hauer's character in The Hitcher, while Scorpio's defining moment is the fantasy of dominating an entire prison as the most dangerous boy in a skirt. […]
What really impressed me, however, is the flair for language, with some really beautiful—and beautifully chilling—passages that had me dog-earing pages along the way.”
—Sally Bend, author, in Bending the Bookshelf

“Quine describes [the Beasts’] release like a beautiful dance instead of a strategic infiltration. […]
The novel is a creative mashing together of Hollywood novel, science fiction, eroticism, and dystopia, with a premise that seems at once foreboding and prescient. While the book takes obvious science fictional liberties with technology, there is a real-world parable about superficiality versus authenticity. As the world becomes more digitally mechanized—and we are as much a product of our digital personae as our real-life personae—the book has an important message to tell about what it is to be truly human. […]
Quine obviously has a lot of affection for his Beasts, which has the same effect on the reader. He also injects humor throughout into what is at times a fairly dark storyline, replete with violence and seamy sexuality.
In all, Quine has created a wholly unique look that will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. Most readers will empathize with the main character and his suboptimal working situation, and the steps he takes to get out from underneath a tyrannical and uninspiring boss. On a science fictional level, the novel works exceptionally well for its creative use of tech, mixed in with a group of highly imaginative characters.
A prequel to five other works, The Beasts of Electra Drive will have readers seeking out Rohan Quine’s other books in the series.”
—SPR

“This novel is essentially near-future cyberpunk subtly blended with elements of LA noir and dystopic fiction to create a darkly stylish and, at times, visionary glimpse into humankind’s future. […] Richly described, the beasts are androgynous characters with full backstories, personalities, and idiosyncrasies. Unleashed upon the world, they allow Jaymi to achieve vengeance in ingenious ways.
This is an intriguing premise, but the story’s true power comes from its underlying theme: Humans can choose to live in the superficial, and underlying falseness, of tabloid reality (as gamers do when engaging in the novel’s online game), or embrace the ‘complexity, unconventionality, beauty and subtlety of truth’ of the world around them. Ultimately Jaymi’s journey of self-discovery mirrors our own: We all seek happiness in the short time that we inhabit the ‘meat space’ of this world.”
—BlueInk Review

“The Beasts of Electra Drive, an unctuously dark piece of magical realism interwoven with biting satire on mass culture.” “This book is a marvel.” “I had the joy of editing this extraordinary novel that's part magic realism, part horror, part satire of the media industry, part meditative hymn.”
—Dan Holloway, author, poet and Guardian blogger, here and here and here

“Quine’s narrative challenges the arbitrariness of commercial gate-keepers and the randomness of success—and has a lot of fun in the process. It’s an odd mixture of dark—verging on horror—with more than a bit of kitsch. […] It’s a very visual novel too. Quine gives his narrative voice (and sometimes his characters), the eye of a camera mounted on a drone, able to fly across a valley and zoom in on details miles in the distance—like a tiny reflection in the pupil of someone’s eye. […]
Reading this book is a little like watching a particularly unsettling art house movie. You will be, in turn, disoriented, enchanted and repelled.
For all the technology involved, this is more magic realism than science fiction. It deliberately pushes the boundaries of the outrageous and challenges you to go along for the ride.”
—Catriona Troth in Bookmuse

“Quine’s novel centers more on an interesting cast than fascinating sci-fi traits. Some characters are computer code in bodily form but still have depth. For example, Jaymi created Kim, in part, to be Shigem’s lover. (A nice touch: both Beasts are male.) There’s likewise a rather sublime religious theme. Though one Beast kneels in prayer in front of ‘his creator,’ Jaymi, there’s an understated notion of free will. Jaymi assigns missions to Beasts (e.g., wreak havoc on Bang Dead) but often leaves them ‘to [their] own devices.’ The author’s lyrical prose is profound and sometimes surreal, especially in character descriptions. ‘Inside Kim,’ Quine writes, ‘there is a lonely savage from the caves, bent on pure first-degree survival, blown by chance and the primal drives of instinct and emotion, alone and uncertain on a dart from birth to death.’ […]
Unhurried but engrossing novel in which characters are more enticing than otherworldly technology.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[Protagonist Jaymi] discovers that he can bring his incarnations of excessive freedom, sexuality, intellectual seriousness, cool ambiguity, and dark vulnerability to life, unleashing them on ‘meat space.’ They become his beasts, extensions of his own personality, and through them, he interacts with the executives behind Ain’t They Freaky! As various elements of Bang Dead’s software are released, Jaymi works to help his former coworkers recognize the shallow depravity of their game through unnerving visits to their homes. […]
This is a powerful book that advocates letting people be themselves, despite how far outside the bell curve of ‘normal’ they are. Pulsing with sexuality, the story will appeal to readers who enjoy artistic works rich in vocabulary, symbolism, and graphic imagery.”
—The Book Review Directory

“Part cyberpunk meditation and part erotic thriller, BEASTS is a stylish narrative romp around a fictional Los Angeles landscape that appeals to the heart first and the head second. […]
THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE sounds like a cyberpunk thriller, and it sort of is. It also has an erotic undertone that grows throughout the narrative as the Beasts themselves crawl out of Jaymi’s computer screen and gain independence. It’s also a postmodern-ish meditation on creativity. Part of Jaymi goes into the creation of each of his Beasts—perhaps something author Rohan Quine can relate to—and as a whole the group is as a kind of kaleidoscope view of its creator. Additionally, part of Jaymi’s mission in siccing the Beasts on Bang Dead Games is a retaliation against Ain’tTheyFreaky!, an in-universe alternate reality game that embodies empty mass appeal over genuine artistry. […] the writing grows increasingly smoother, culminating in a hauntingly pretty passage about man’s inhumanity to man and ending up with intense backstories for the Beasts.
THE BEASTS OF ELECTRA DRIVE is, as its cover suggests, perhaps more about style than substance. Readers are told not to judge books by their covers—but this is the future. Maybe that’s the point.”
—IndieReader

“A sensual ballet of rich characterisation, alluring subtlety and originality. The Beasts of Electra Drive is a novel that I didn't want to put down while I was reading it […]. I was transported into a domain peopled by characters who felt as if they were beckoning to me. It was as if they were inviting me into a kind of gliding embrace of harmony, within the pages of their author’s imagination.
I found myself underlining things on the page, throughout it, because of the allure of Quine's language. I was fascinated with the marriage of his vocabulary and his punctuation. On the few times when I wasn’t familiar with a word he uses, I resisted looking up its meaning—so as not to disturb the flow of the prose, but also because the spell of the sentences made the mystery of those words’ meanings into an actual part of Quine’s sheer creativity.
I felt drawn into his characters, which are complex. In the case of at least a couple of them, I had a strange feeling that they were somehow stroking me, while I was being led around their inner worlds. I was unable to dislike any of them, even those who clearly weren’t very nice.
I also loved being reminded of when I lived in the Hollywood Hills. […] Quine has captured the feel of those hills and canyons, in a way that will be recognised as authentic by anyone who’s lived there.
This book creates a luscious and sensuous effect, which you can expand into. I have the sense that it was written by a very unusual and special person.”
—Suzi Rapport, poet

“An extraordinary genre-defining and fascinating novel. So timely as cynical, talentless and opioid-pushing mass-media owners try and downgrade all popular culture—Rupert Murdoch/tv producers and ilk, I'm looking at you. Like a lyrical poem from ancient times. But more violent and with more gay sex.”
—Hermione Ireland on Goodreads

“Jaymi’s pursuits are a revenge fantasy taken to the next level, with moral and ethical quandaries wound in.
Magical realism meets old school noir in Rohan Quine’s technological thriller The Beasts of Electra Drive, which poses philosophical questions around reality, humanity, and where to draw the line with tech-infusion. […]
Distinct writing is filled with lyrical prose and vivid sensory descriptions […] At times, [Jaymi] appears to have moral quandaries about his drastic actions against a rival company. His cyber-creations also lead him to question the nature of existence and his role as a creator—can he ethically order his creations to do his bidding in the real world? […]
The characters that Jaymi creates are refreshing in their diversity of race, gender, and sexuality. The two distinctly male beasts conform to the spectrum of masculinity, with one, Amber, being excessively violent, athletic, and handsome, and the other, Kim, being introverted but boundlessly intelligent and philosophical. These two men are in relationships with Shigem and Scorpio, who are more fluid in their gender and sexual identities. Shigem and Scorpio, along with Evelyn, are of varying nonwhite ethnicities. The scope of variety among the beasts is a nice change of pace.
The Beasts of Electra Drive is a techno-thriller that focuses more on its beautiful prose than on nurturing its thrills. Although sometimes repetitive in format, the vitality of the characters is pleasant and engaging.”
—Foreword Clarion Reviews

“A crazy, psychedelic and experimental book. A fascinating and genre-defying story of a genius computer games designer waging war on the cynical and cretinous mass-market media and entertainment peddlers that threaten to cheapen and destroy our world. Perfect for adventurous readers.”
—Dartmouth dogwalker on Amazon

“A fully-wrought origin story like no other.”
—The Bookbag
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