You know, you write books, you manage to sell them to a publisher, and then sometimes all you get back are reviews and royalty statements (and if you’re lucky, actual royalties). And then once in a blue moon a reader writes you a note that makes you tear up in a manly way. One such email came from James Mulholland today after he’d read The Final Evolution (which has been available in the UK for a few weeks now [minor spoilers here for those who have not read the book yet]:
“Dear magnificent bastard:
Thank you for the Avery Cates books. Sincerely.I read a lot of sci-fi from a variety of the popular authors of the day, nothing compares with the Avery Cates books in terms of sheer ease and joy of consumption. I do not mean ‘ease of consumption’ in a derogatory way at all, there are some complex themes and ideas in there. I mean it in terms of raw, “it’s 3am and I’ve been reading for how long!? Holy crap, I consumed it whole in two days!?!”, page-turnability. Yes, I’m inventing words now.
Rip-roaring, roller-coaster-ride, page-turnability.
That’s how I describe your work to those friends of mine I beat around the head to purchase your books.
I’ve been following Avery’s adventures since I stumbled upon a copy of The Electric Church not long after its UK publication on a windswept trip, to the windswept Scottish coast, in a windswept Scottish towns one small windswept Scottish bookshop (the scifi section consisted of a grand total of 2 shelves. Short on choice, high on quality it would seem!
Since then, the publication of a new Cates novel has gotten a spot on my calendar and a pre-order at the bookshop, without fail.
While I lament the loss of Mr Cates and his delightfully grizzled, hilarious and fatalistic ways (I suspect the narrative arc may have run its course with the final book, although I of course live in hope) I am grateful for having been along for one hell of a ride on the way.
So Mr Somers, I suppose that’s all I really have for you; thanks and unsolicited praise from a fan.
And while I lament that Avery Cates may not be back to shit-kick another day (or, for that matter, doom what’s left of his own species again) I am happy and excited to read any and all material you produce in the future; be they set in this universe or any other you chose to concoct.
Congratulations on creating a fantastic (and wonderfully bleak) universe, which contained compelling, relatable and intriguing characters and all took place across a fantastic story arc culminating in what I think is your best work to date.
I particularly liked your treatment of Wa Belling. After years of Avery stewing and plotting this once willy, powerful, master-manipulator and living-legend is finally brought low by simply running out of years (not to mention mutilation at the hands of his insane once-ally)… All of this is viewed and filtered through Cates’ increasingly tired and aging perspective.
I found that more poignant, satisfying and relevant to Cates’s character than any protracted (roon-based) gun battle or simple revenge fantasy could ever be.
To paraphrase, the “Fuck, well after all that, do I even want to kill this worn out geezer anymore…?” moment was just perfect.
P.S: First ever fictional character to inspire me to pause mid-read, fetch a glass of malt, and toast as a result of his inglorious demise: ”Fuckin’ Grisha!” *Glug*”
Emails like that make my month. Thanks, James!