on 4 June 2013
This is a collection of three short stories - Delirium, Agony and Ecstacy - of roughly equal length.
Lirium is a debt collector. People nearing the end of their lives can sell their remaining time on the planet to clear their financial commitments. An agency exists to transfer this life force to those that can best use it - scientists involved in developing products to make the world a better place, for example.
But there are plenty of people who want to put this life force to use for their own base purposes rather than those of mankind as Lirium finds to his cost.
I was drawn to this series of short books by the genre description of `future noir'. As a kid I read a lot of sci-fi (where I would plant this book) and now a lot of noir so I felt this would be an interesting read. I wasn't wrong. The writing is surprisingly compelling and the world the main character, Lirium, inhabits is well drawn. It's not particularly gritty (compared to what I typically read at least) and it drifts towards being aimed at the YA genre. Yes there's sexual references, but it's relatively tame and there's no swearing within.
In the first story, Delirium, we are introduced to Lirium. He's twenty but looks significantly older, his two years as a debt collector, like a human grim reaper, has been hard on him. He constantly fears for his life, sees danger in every shadow and can't have any friends. After a hit he comes back down to earth with vodka and a sex worker, but this latter woman, Elena, has a difference - a sick sister who needs the life force to keep her alive.
In Agony Lirium has moved on, literally leaving Elena behind him. He meets his case handler who spots the trouble he is in and assigns another collector, Ophelia, to help him. However the mob get their hands on Ophelia.
Ecstacy finds Lirium desperate to find Ophelia, despite being told she's more than likely dead. Lirium also comes back into contact with Elena and meets her madam. The sex workers are actually working for good (I'll let you find out how) and want Lirium to join their cause. But Lirium is solely focused on finding Ophelia and goes to the mob to get her back...
This was strong writing that kept me wanting more. There are plenty of hooks and depth to the stories. The characters are good, the dialogue interesting. It left me keen to read the rest of the series to see what happens to Lirium.
**Originally reviewed for Books & Pals Blog. May have received free review copy.**
on 31 May 2013
Each of the instalments of the Debt Collector serial is around 12-15 thousand words, making this collection only just more than a novella. At first, I questioned wether 'gritty future noir' could be fully explored in just 12,000 words, but soon found the rapid pace of the writing and the economical use of detail made the series all the more compelling. I couldn't put it down.
Lirium is a very flawed character, doing a horrible job and surviving it any way he can. He's easy to relate to, to like, despite his drinking habits and recovery rituals involving prostitutes. Within the first few paragraphs he's transferred the life out of someone, effectively killing them, and yet Quinn manages to keep us firmly on his side. Important, given how little space she has to work with.
The episodic nature of the story does mean a lot of unresolved issues within each instalment, but plot threads are consistently picked up across the three episodes I've read, and the whole thing promises to have a satisfying arc if it continues in the same vein. A couple of decisions are made a little rapidly, but that's the nature of the story telling style, and not hugely detrimental to enjoyment.
In fact, the world is so intriguing and cleverly drawn - reminding me a little of the TV show Dark Angel at times - that any minor issues like that can be very easily overlooked. I found myself desperate to know more about the world - how does Lirium have his powers, what is the grander conspiracy at work (there must be one, there always is) and how do the mobs operate and so on and so on.
It's also the first time ever that I've been sorely tempted to buy the next in a self published series. I might just have to treat myself next month.
on 13 May 2013
I bought all these episodes individually, as once I'd read episode one - Delirium - there was no way I was waiting until the first box set came out. However, if you haven't read any, this is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the dark and gritty world of The Debt Collector series.
Quinn has brought the episodic world of television into fiction by giving us season one of her future-noir science fiction series. Each episode or read is a self-contained story that also carries forward the story of main character. Twists you don't see coming and cliff-hanger endings will leave you gasping for more.
Read The Debt Collector. You won't be disappointed.