Markosia released The Indifference Engine by Cy Dethan and Robert Carey a while ago now – a book I enjoyed as a fan of alternate timelines and other such SF themes. Now, a second collection, The Indifference Engine: The Suicide Show, this volume drawn by Russ Leach, is on its way and I’m delighted to report it’s a mind-bending as the previous volume.
In The Indifference Engine, Alan Blake, a distinctly ordinary 20-something suburban slacker found himself in the middle of an inter-dimensional task force staffed entirely by superhuman alternate versions of himself. Struggling to fit in, he uncovered a conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of the organisation – a conspiracy that only he could stop.
Without spoiling the story, when we last saw him Alan Blake was gradually becoming immortal…. which was not necessarily a good thing.
In The Indifference Engine 2: The Suicide Show, Alan is being blackmailed by an insane supercomputer (the Engine) made from the “original” Alan Blake’s brain matter, and he’s been travelling across alternate dimensions — assassinating every other version of himself.
Alan, you see, is part of a vast spectrum of realities, running from “red” to “blue”. A reality’s place on the spectrum is defined by its resident Alan Blake, from the weak and sickly “Infras” to the superhuman, near-immortal “Ultras”. If you kill the Blake, you kill its entire reality. “Our” Alan is an Ultra with the ability to absorb the weaknesses of others.
Every other Ultra has a unique fatal flaw – the only way to kill them. By giving an Ultra back his flaw, our Alan loses that same vulnerability himself and takes a step toward becoming “whole”. The Engine is using him to fold all the split realities back into a single core, and has given him some enhancements – primarily the ability to sense the fatal flaws of others. He’s getting pretty good at killing himself, these days. In fact, he’s starting to enjoy it…
The new volume has a lot of twists and turns but, once you get your head around the fact that both ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ are in effect the same person it’s another great romp from Cy Dethan. (fortunately, for the reader, some alternates look different to others and some have better dress sense so it’s not too hard to work out Which Alan is Which…). If you’re already familiar with his work, you’ll know how much he enjoys twisting your brain as you draw, as anyone who’s read Cancertown will recall.
Russ Leach delivers some fine art, and weaving between many different realities – some with weirder-looking Alans than others, as it turns out – The Suicide Show proves an enjoyable follow up to the first volume.
The Suicide Show be officially launched at the London Super Comic Con in March (14th-15th) and Cy will be signing at the Markosia table both days, if you’re going to be there. Meanwhile, here’s some of the book’s opening pages to wet your appetite…
• Visit Markosia’s official site for release information: www.markosia.com