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Déjà Vu: A Technothriller [Paperback]

Ian Hocking
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
Price: £7.13 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

8 May 2011
It is 2023. Scientist David Proctor is running for his life. On his trail is Saskia Brandt, a detective with the European FIB. She has questions. Questions about a bomb that exploded back in 2003. But someone is hunting her too. The clues are in the shattered memories of her previous life. Déjà Vu takes the reader on a startling journey through a possible future, though digital minds, and through the consequences of the choices we make. It is the debut novel by Ian Hocking. 'You've never read anything like Déjà Vu before' - SFX 'A crisply-written, fast-paced thriller that makes assured use of cutting-edge science fiction ideas' -- Ken MacLeod.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (8 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461123860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461123866
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 995,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a university lecturer and researcher based in Canterbury.

For the most part, I write thoughtful, character-based science fiction thrillers with a philosophical edge. These include Déjà Vu, Flashback, and The Amber Rooms (in the Saskia Brandt Series) and Red Star Falling (in the Agents Temporal Series). Déjà Vu won the Red Adept Science Fiction Award.

Otherwise, I have been known to write comedy fiction.

Drop me an email if you like: ihocking@gmail.com. I also maintain a mailing list for those interested in keeping up with my work.

Product Description


A crisply-written, fast-paced thriller that makes assured use of cutting-edge science fiction ideas. -- Ken MacLeod, best-selling author of 'The Star Faction'

A new voice in British SF that we should all be taking an interest in. -- Joe Gordon, Forbidden Planet International

An interesting debut novel that successfully blends cyberpunk and technothriller and presents a few good SF ideas along the way. -- Andy Sawyer, The Alien Online

The narrative is thoughtful and the way Hocking makes events from different decades mirror each other shows quiet skill. -- The Guardian

This is a multi-stranded, complicated novel that provides a very clever and satisfying denouement. -- Tregolwyn Book Reviews

Understated, almost 1950s feeling. Layering of the narrative is thoughtful...shows quiet skill. -- The Guardian, February 26, 2005 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

That September morning in Berlin, leaves of blood and gold littered Unter den Linden from the columns of the Brandenburg Gate to the Schloss Bridge. Saskia Brandt kicked through the drifts without stopping.

Sunlight caught the distant glass dome of the Reichstag. Tourists drank in the open street cafés. At Potsdamer Platz, the shoulder of the Federal Investigation Bureau’s headquarters poked through the jostle of buildings, and Saskia strode inside, ignoring the blind man and his collection tin near the entrance. She covered the inlaid insignia – Ex tabula rasa – in five paces, dumped her weapon into a bucket, and retrieved it on the other side of the detector while the guard folded his arms haughtily.

‘Kopf hoch,’ he said.

Saskia marched on. Attacked by the air conditioning, her sweat dried cold. She passed a copy of the European Union constitution in a glass case. A tour group had clotted around it while a guide recited trivia. Saskia found the lift and rose to the fifty-first floor.

Her office was spare. To the left was a screened section for her secretary. In the centre was her black desk. On it sat only an antique blotter and a framed photograph of Simon, her English boyfriend. To the right, beyond some abstract art, was a separate kitchen and bathroom.

Her office was haunted by a computer that she had failed to name. ‘The air conditioning is broken,’ it announced.

Saskia walked to the window. Two cameras hung in the dark corners of the ceiling. They tracked her mouth.


‘I do not know. A repair man has been called. Perhaps you could take a cold shower.’

Saskia turned to one of the cameras. ‘Thanks for the advice.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘Where is my secretary? Why didn’t she report it?’

‘Your secretary is on holiday.’ The computer paused. ‘You should also be on holiday. In London.’

Her holiday had been one day old when Jobanique, her immediate superior, had interrupted it with an urgent case. Simon had been cooking pasta for a romantic meal when the call came through and, without discernible romance, had thrown the boiling pot across the room. A stray tassel of spaghetti had branded her forehead in the shape of a question mark. She had packed with a coldness that, in itself, told her that she and Simon were no more. In the taxi, she had stretched across the back seat and cried.

She walked into the bathroom, drew some water and splashed it over her forehead. She walked into the kitchen and surveyed it: a microwave, some cupboards, a coffeemaker and a large refrigerator. Her eyes stopped on the refrigerator. It promised cold, sparkling mineral water. Saskia pulled the handle and her secretary rolled out, taut and twisted, dead joints creaking as she unfurled. Their eyes met and Saskia crouched slowly, her attention finally moving from the dry orbs to the hole below the secretary’s left ear.


Around midday, the rain drew back. A car arrived at the Park Hotel. The ruin of the West Lothian Research Centre lay beneath its foundations. Its entrances were capped. It lay dormant. No longer were approaching vehicles checked, or visitors searched, or the expansive woodlands patrolled.

The single occupant of the taxi was a man with a friendly, forgettable face. He was halfway to baldness and kept the remainder of his hair long, swept over his ears and rakishly curled at the collar. His jacket was tailor-made but his jeans were fashionably cheap. He was David Proctor, Oxford academic, and it was twenty years since he had cradled the head of his dead wife in the darkness below.

‘One moment, please,’ said his computer. ‘You have a phone call.’

‘Tell them I’m busy.’

He opened the door and relished the damp air.

‘It is your daughter.’

David pulled his leg back into the car and closed the door. He steepled his fingers to help himself think. It didn’t work.

‘Put her on.’

‘I cannot. The communication is encrypted. I do not know the cipher.’

David smiled. ‘Find Jennifer’s high school maths project.’

‘I’ve found it. Decrypting.’

The image of his daughter appeared. David straightened his back. She looked like her mother.

‘Hello, Jennifer.’

‘Hi, Dad.’

David laughed. She had an American accent. ‘I’m glad you called.’

‘Are you?’

‘Yes.’ He paused. ‘I wanted to talk to you.’

‘Talk, then.’

David watched the rain on the windscreen. This conversation had arrived too soon. ‘I – I’m sorry. After you went to New York, I thought you needed some time to yourself.’

‘You sent me away. You sent the freak to the freaks, then skipped the country.’

‘You couldn’t stay in Oxford any more. You wouldn’t have realized your full potential.’ David sighed. ‘We’ve been through this.’

‘I was the one who had to go through it, not you. Do you know what it was like in that school?’

‘I got your e-mails.’

‘I didn’t get yours.’

‘Jennifer, why did you call?’

‘Not to sing happy birthday. I have a message for you.’

‘What is it?’

She moved closer to her camera. ‘Where are you?’

‘Actually, I’m at the old research centre in West Lothian.’

‘What are you doing there?’

‘I can’t tell you that on the phone.’

‘This isn’t a phone, Dad.’ She was almost smiling.

‘I know. You’ve encrypted the transmission.’

She nodded. ‘You remembered the cipher.’

‘What’s wrong, Jenny?’

‘You need to go back to Oxford.’

Through the windscreen, the hotel was a tearful blur. ‘Has someone been talking to you?’

‘Dad, something may happen.’

His expression was grim. ‘Something already has happened. And I’m late. Can I call you later?’

Jennifer smiled. It was hollow. ‘Sure.’

The screen went blank. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected, but very welcome, pleasure 31 Mar 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I purchased this for 70p with no great expectation. "A cheap, ordinary read for the journey into London," I thought. How wrong I was.

Déjà Vu is a slick, gripping and brilliantly written piece of science-fiction that deserves much wider attention than it has had so far. The main characters are strong, believable and likeable and the plot unfolds at breakneck speed towards a thrilling conclusion.

In all honesty, this would be a good value read even at full price. At 70p it is an absolute steal and I can't help but feel that, given the novel was written in 2005, Ian Hocking has missed the opportunity to keep people interested in his work, especially the continuing adventures of Saskia Brandt, by getting the next book in the series to market more quickly than appears to be the case.

This very minor niggle aside, congratulations must go to the undoubtedly talented author for a fantastic debut novel. Now all I have to do is wait impatiently for his next.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time travel technothriller 23 Mar 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
It's been some years since I read this book, but I would still say what I said (see the Product Description) about the print version. It's well-written, fast-paced, and makes very good use of a time-travel paradox plot in a technothriller framework. This book deserved commercial publication - it's a lot better than some published novels in the same genre - and it's a crying shame it never got it. Now that it's available in this electronic form, you're risking very little in giving it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant intrigue 26 Dec 2004
By Jonesy
What an intriguing novel! The plot draws you convincingly along the journey experienced by the characters and the prose is so elegant that you get a massage en route. Apologies to the author who is so much better at metaphors than me. A good read. Highly recommended. I look forward to reading more novels by this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wondered what a 'technothriller' was, and I know now. It's not what I would consider true sci-fi as there are no aliens, spaceships or other worlds to explore and play with (and it's not badged as such): all action is set in the present day or near future, within the obvious constraints imposed by those boundaries. In such a milieu, it is not easy to probe and exploit the possibilities of future technological advances AND remain grounded in 1) plausibility and 2) what the average (or knowledgeable) reader would consider acceptable science. What Ian Hocking does in this book is to successfully pull off a masterful effort of achieving this balance whilst weaving a multi-timelined narrative (which doesn't either fall to bits under its own weight, or needfully rely on the odd deus ex machina to get to the next part. The science is dealt with in enough depth to be plausible, yet not explored to such a depth to detract from the flow of the narrative. He creates half-dozen or so rounded and dimensionally substantial primary characters; I thought that Saskia Brandt was nicely sketched and slowly filled in as the book progressed. Other protagonists were sufficiently drawn for me to be able to understand their motivations and behaviours, and empathise/ sympathise as appropriate.

Overall, a highly engaging book from a rising young author. I have just purchased the sequel (Flashback), and look forward with glee to becoming further acquainted with Dr Hocking and his technothrilling world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a find. 7 Aug 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
What a find. This is the perfect demonstration that a low price does not equal low quality.

Déjà Vu is a near future story about time travel, with realistic characters, a well thought out plot and a fast moving storyline it doesn't dissapoint. I read this cover to cover (or whatever the digital equivalent is) in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down and the follow up "Flashback" is just as good.

Highly recommended and I look forward to more excellent writing from Ian in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I downloaded this because I was in a hurry, didn't have time to spend choosing, and figured that as it was cheap, it wouldn't matter too much if I hated it.

What I found was a new author to follow. The writing is of excellent quality, it's well plotted, original, and exciting. I was amazed when I got to the end and discovered that the author has no agent and no publisher.

I've also read the next in the series (Flashback) and it's equally good. We are promised another in 2012, and I can't wait.

If you buy these books, you will not only be supporting the concept of e-books at a fair price, but you'll also get a top quality read.

[Edit - 11 March 2013]

I can no longer recommend this book. If you start the series, you'll find that books one and two are excellent, but that book three is such a disappointment, you'll probably regret ever having started.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best debut novels I've read! 2 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To summarise the style it has echoes of Ken MacLeod, Stig Larsen, Peter Hoeg and Ian Rankin yet is uniquely Ian Hocking's own. It is both well written and paced to keep your attention, never leaving you wanting to put it down for some more urgent task. The science is a credible evolution of the present day but is really just very well presented window dressing for the characters and their interactions - you could move them to any era and weave a first rate, robust story around them. This is what makes a great story. I've just purchased the next in what I hope is a very long series. Thank you Ian Hocking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good plot
Good read, fast in places, characters good plot good
Could see this being made into a movie
But who would play main roles?
Published 4 months ago by Mr F Pine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great writer
This is really worth reading, the writer has self published but not because he lacks talent!
I'm just about to read the next book in the brandt series
In fact praise... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ria
5.0 out of 5 stars Really very good, not just "good for a debut"
Great premise, love the way its written, original, good characters, nothing not to like, its a great sci fi book... apart from the sequels. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Michael P
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
A slightly odd read to start with but brilliant once one gets into it. If you like thoughtful metaphysical sci-fi this author is for you. He writes very well indeed.
Published 6 months ago by DavidMatthewson
4.0 out of 5 stars All the elements that I enjoy
I love sci-fi, thriller and especially anything that includes time travel and its paradoxes. This book had the lot and threw in some fascinating characters too. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Carole
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice twist on the who done it.
I thought I'd try this after reading some recommendations on Amazon, I'm glad I did. I found it very different to my normal fare, Michael Connelly, Lee Child's, Ian Rankin, Grisham... Read more
Published 11 months ago by smudge1966
5.0 out of 5 stars innovative and twisting plot!
Took a little while to get into this book but found the effort was well worth it. Sleuth and science fiction, brilliant!
Published 11 months ago by sparky
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and fun
I am really glad that Hocking decided not to give up on his books after years of disillusionment and went for the self-publishing route. Read more
Published 12 months ago by staticgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars great
This book was something really interesting, I didn't expect such twist in plot, mix of different types of stories, sci- fi with detective. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Artur
1.0 out of 5 stars deleted
I deleted this from my kindle, did not understand the plot. The writing style put me off from the start. Read more
Published 13 months ago by kerry (my star rating is....)
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