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5.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling, uplifted monkeys in epic sea and zeppelin battles, 23 Mar 2013
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Mr. Dj Livesey "Doug" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Kindle Edition)
So really what's not to love? Also manages to ask some pretty serious questions about the nature of consciousness whilst you're distracted by all the adventure. Brilliant.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant idea, well executed, but plays it too safe towards the end., 27 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed the early parts of the book, with two very different stories that seem to have no connection, but cleverly collide. The characters are interesting and the story romps along nicely. The later part of the book becomes pretty standard action film material, but remains well executed. I would have liked to read more about the future world and the airships, plus a bit more of Ack-Ack changing as a character as he learns of his nature, with more creative use of his flair for action and dialogue. The excellent short story at the end shows that the author doesn't always play safe and his material is all the better for it. I still hope there is a sequel and a film!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Military Monkey Madness, 1 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Mass Market Paperback)
In order to get the most from this novel you need only do one thing. If you can happily accept the premise a monkey can fly a fighter plane during World War II and that it is the most natural thing in the world you'll be on to a winner. Yes, yes I know it sounds entirely absurd (it is) but you know what? It totally works. Powell revels in the madness of it all and has crafted a cracking science-fiction adventure around the idea.

The character of Ack-Ack Macaque himself is just so much damn fun. Think a sardonic, simian Biggles with a penchant for bad rum and good banana daiquiris and you'll be about half way there. He enjoys his cigars, swears more than my wife (you'll have to trust me on this one, she swears a lot) and has a marvellously bolshie attitude. His default solution to almost every situation is varying degrees of violence. Larger than life and proud of it he is more than just a character, he is a force of nature.

"You know what we need, Merovech?"

"What?"

A hairy palm slapped the wood hard enough to raise dust.

"Booze! And lots of it!"

Meanwhile the other main lead, Victoria Valois, manages to hold her own against the one-monkey war machine that is Ack-Ack Macaque. She's intelligent, inquisitive and absolutely determined to uncover the details of the conspiracy that left her ex-husband dead. Victoria's history gives Powell the opportunity to include some really cool technology in the story.

Now how do these two finally end up in the same place? Well, that would be telling and I'm not going to do that. Take it from me the discovery, in this instance, is half the fun.

You're bound to feel a certain amount of deranged joy when you realise that all bets are off. In this novel, anything can potentially happen and most likely probably will. In the space of the first hundred pages alone Powell manages to throw a couple of major curve-balls into the plot that I'll admit I didn't see coming. I thought I had things sussed pretty quickly and was overjoyed when I realised that I was almost entirely wrong. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I had very high expectations before I started reading Ack-Ack Macaque (what can I say, some of us have stayed closer to the old evolutionary tree than others), but nothing could have prepared me for the novel I read. Any book that makes me grin like a buffoon whenever I cracked it open is a definite winner. Full of great characters, fast moving plot and lashings of first-rate action, I can't recommend this highly enough. I didn't just like this I loved it.

"If bullets wouldn't work, he'd have to do it the traditional way, with an old school monkey knife fight."

The novel also includes a couple of nice extras that offer a little insight into the inception of the character of Ack-Ack Macaque. The first short story that the character appeared in is reprinted and I rather like the idea that the monkey has always been hanging around somewhere just waiting to be discovered.

There had better be sequel to this or I will be unleashing my own army of flying monkeys to sort the publishers out. I'll take no pleasure in it, but I'll do it! I promise you!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone loves the monkey ..., 4 July 2013
This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Paperback)
It's 2058 in an alternate world where Britain, France and Norway have united under the British monarchy. 19-year-old Prince Merovech is the heir to the throne but when his French girlfriend, Julie, invites him to join her in breaking into a laboratory run by his mother to free an artificial intelligence he jumps at the chance to abandon his responsibilities only to find that the AI's actually an enhanced monkey known as Ack-Ack Macaque.

Ack-Ack's been jacked into an on-line role-playing game where he believes that it's 1944 and he's an RAF pilot fighting German ninjas. Forced to question his entire existence, he's determined to get revenge and ropes Merovech and Julie in to help find the people responsible. Their search brings them into contact with Victoria Valois, a technologically-enhanced former journalist who's hunting for her ex-husband's murderer.

In a world filled with nuclear-powered zeppelins, electronic souls and vengeful, cigar-smoking monkeys, the four of them will battle powerful forces with sinister motives against the backdrop of a mission to Mars ...

Gareth Powell's SF novel is a thoroughly entertaining, fun-filled adventure packed with ideas and wry humour that kept me turning the pages to the end.

The star of the book's Ack-Ack, a cigar-chomping monkey undergoing an existential crisis. Larger than life, he simply takes over every scene he's in and I really enjoyed learning about his backstory. However Victoria Valois takes an equally prominent role and she's just as interesting, having had her brain rebuilt with gel-ware following a helicopter crash. Her relationship with ex-husband Paul continues after his brutal murder as she uploads his soul (essentially a computer recreation of his personality) into her own brain, which I found interesting. The notion of soul-catchers (which store the personalities) was fascinating and I loved how the plot touches on the consequences and implications of this.

Merovech was less interesting and I didn't quite buy his relationship with Julie (who doesn't really seem to do much). I also wished that his relationship with his mother had been developed more than it was, especially because of the way the plot turns on it.

The alternate world is well realised and has a coherent history and the use of news reports to put the story within a wider geopolitical context. The nuclear powered zeppelins were also great fun.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and will definitely buy the sequel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternative history SF, 30 April 2013
This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Paperback)
I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of Gareth L. Powell's latest book. The novel hits the beaches in January 2013 from Solaris. Imagine what the world would be like if the UK, France and Norway amalgamated in the 50's and spin that forwards 50 years into the future. This is what Gareth Powell has done with this story that is an "xpunk" (taking the best from Cyber AND steam) novel. There are aircraft carrier sized nuclear powered Zeppelin cities that are neutral territory. There are soul catchers that allow people to record a backup of their personalities. There are immersive alt reality games. There is "gelware" that can replace brain tissue if you accidently bash your head in a helicopter accident. There is the prince of Wales who gets involved with a girl with purple hair who is an AI rights activist. And there is a foul mouthed, one eyed, cigar chomping monkey with a pair of revolvers, a flying jacket and a bad attitude.

"Do you know what you have to do?" Ack-Ack Macaque grinned, exposing his teeth "Same as I always do, right?" He snapped the reloaded Colt back together and spun the barrel. "Blow s*** up, and hurt people"

Throw in Nazi ninjas, a dastardly plot, a woman journo with a dead husband in her head, a looming nuclear conflict and a rocket to Mars and you have a full on entertaining adventure yarn. Ack-Ack Macaque started life as a short story (albeit one very different from the novel) included at the end of the novel that was published in Interzone.

Overall - It has Monkeys. Monkeys flying planes. Monkeys shooting Nazis. Nazis who are also ninjas. Need I say more?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You gotta love that monkey, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Kindle Edition)
This book is a story within a story, partly set in an alternative WWII, with Ack-Ack Macaque fighting off hoards of black clad German Ninja warriors. And partly set in 2059, a future with an alternative past to what we know now. The link between the two is the title character. How, you might ask, does the character fit into two time frames 115 years apart? Well that would be giving a little too much away, but let's put it this way, he does fit in both time frames, and it doesn't involve any complicated time travel plot.

The move from past to present is deftly done, almost seamless, and allows the character to carry on unchanged. He is assisted in his adventures by a supporting cast that are not what you would expect to be adventurous, danger seekers. Of the bunch the heir to the throne is the most interesting, and because of events shares a common ground with Macaque.

The action is handled well, no-one, except the monkey, is a skilled fighter, and the author manages to put this across well. People are clumsy, they get injured; they make mistakes. This gives the action a more realistic feel for me. Too often in books, TV and films you see an average Joe take on the big bad and become an expert fighter overnight. Here this does not happen.

I nice touch is the inclusion of news items, blog posts, scattered between the chapters, about events happening in the story and in the wider world. It helps build a bigger picture without coming across as info-dumping. It's also is a nifty way of world building.

If I have one criticism it's there are a lot of long talky segments in the middle section, talky segments that made the middle drag. I'm not sure if these were put in to bulk the book out to novel length, but for me they seemed superfluous, as several times the conversations were just going over ground that had been covered. As a reader I think of myself as fairly perceptive, I can get the gist of what's going on without having to be reminded.

All in all this is a rip roaring adventure yarn, with a smattering of steampunk, a smidge of alternative sci-fi and a lead character that seriously kicks-ass.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice read, 1 Mar 2013
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Mass Market Paperback)
I recall the original short story which shares the same name. It was one of those where the concept and character stays with the reader for a long time. I am pleased to see that although the original publisher Elastic Books is no longer, Gareth Powell has gone from strength to strength. He has taken the original story and expanded it to cover an alternate world where Akk Akk can be a real person as well as an online presence. The tale is not complex but still entertaining
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love the Monkey, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Kindle Edition)
The title may sound ridiculous but this is brilliant escapist fun just suspend your disbelief and the mad monkey mayhem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read This, 19 July 2014
By 
Mark Rawsthorne "Markle" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ack-Ack Macaque (Kindle Edition)
Just stupidly funny, but classy, too.
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Ack-Ack Macaque
Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell (Mass Market Paperback - 26 Dec 2012)
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