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on 6 June 2011
Disclaimer: I read and enjoyed Deja Vu.

Therefore, I was biased towards expecting Flashback to be good. And thank goodness, it was! In my opinion, a much more accomplished novel than the début, but retaining all the style and trickery that made his first book so interesting. The plot involves time-travel again, so you're going to need to pay attention. In my opinion, these situations benefit from reading through the whole novel swiftly so that you - literally - don't lose the plot. That's no problem with Flashback as the pacing is just right and keeps you moving on, to the eventual (surprising) conclusion. The relationships between the characters is more mature too, which means that the reader is not just relying on the 'techno' aspect of the novel to keep their interest. My only criticisms might be that occasionally Hocking seems to become overly wordy, although that may reflect my own meagre vocabulary, and I thought that the climax of the novel was oddly-placed, a couple of chapters from the end. Minor complaints though - this novel is well worth a read, and at Kindle prices, great value.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2012
An excellent follow up to the first Saskia Brandt volume in which the implications of operating in a closed loop time travelling universe are explored in great depth. Fast complex action spanning two continents and two times streams mixed with nuanced human interaction and staccato explosions of violence keep the reader on the ball whilst turning pages. Finished this one in a single night after reading the first volume the day before. I shall definitely be looking out for more work by Hocking. Excellent stuff and very highly recommended.
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on 5 January 2012
As with some of the other reviewers, I invested in this because I read and enjoyed Deja Vu (Saskia's previous outing). This is an altogether tighter and more polished product from an author honing his skills. The plot jumps seamlessly between at least 3 different timespaces, with plotlines weaving around each other. Luckily, the author's skill is such that it never becomes too much of a challenge to keep track of what is happening to who and when! It would not be a book you could leave for a month and come back to without checking back as to where you were up to though.

What really impressed me was the intricacy with which the author researches and then describes the environments within which the characters find themselves. If a picture paints a thousand words, then Hocking can use a number of words to create a vivid and detailed picture within the mind's eye of the reader. I also applaud the accuracy and thoroughness that he applies to these descriptions, be it a created future or the interior of a converted WW2 bomber-airliner.

I actually look forward to The Amber Room (Saskia's next outing) with more anticipation than I really think I ought to be able to muster!!
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on 16 April 2012
Well, this book (Flashback; Ian Hocking) was a delightful read on many levels. It's been a while since I read the first one (Deja Vu), so Flashback read more like a standalone novel featuring some of the same characters than a continuation of the series, although I think that is also down to the protagonist of Deja Vu being more of a supporting character in Flashback.

The characters are people you care about, which is usually the defining characteristic of a good book and the main reason I get past the first chapter of anything (fictional) I read. They're real people, with all the flaws, foibles and inconsistencies that make us human and make us interesting. The nice thing about books is that you get to see the motivations behind actions, which you rarely get in real life.

I really enjoy the way Ian's novels flow, the narrative staying coherent (although sometimes you have to reread parts to make sure you've got it in relation to previous events) even as the story jumps from place to time to character, weaving all the threads into a complete picture at the end.

I'm looking forward to the third installment a great deal...
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on 5 June 2011
I'd read Deja Vu and wondered how the author would continue the series. I'm glad to say that the second novel is also very good, but (thankfully) in its own way. The framing of the timeline of the story worked well for me, and the book as a whole has been added to my "re-read again later on" list (which is a complment). The end makes me wonder about the character's motivation, and about how she will be affected by her decision in the next book. My only slight grumble (and this is nit-picking) is that I think the STENDEC thread is ultimately rather contrived. And it's outweighed by all the good things in the book (the reveal on the opponent's history at the end is particularly good). But I reserve the right to change my mind on re-reading.

I *think* there's probably enough context here to read this book without reading the previous, but Deja Vu is very cheap on Kindle, so I'd recommend buying both.

Again, it's really appreciated that both Kindle versions are without DRM.
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on 8 March 2012
What a great read. I'd loved every page of Deja vu and was ready to be disappointed with the follow-up. Oh no - Flashback is superb! These two Kindle books and Hannu Rajaniemi's Quantum Thief had me saying Blimey each time I finished a chapter. Genuinely astonished at the turns of events - and I've read a lot of SciFi for 40 years. Writing quality is up there with Iain Banks and that is saying a lot. As Hocking says, it's a character-led story and all the better for it. I love not having everything explained in one go, but casually having a vital ingredient tossed in. And from my reading experience this is unique story-telling. Even the intimate scenes are carefully done - often a huge failing with SF writers. I want the next one!!
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on 24 February 2012
The second Saskia Brandt novel is every bit as good and inventive as the first. Ian Hocking is clearly an accomplished writer who manages to create complex plot situations and characters with depth. The time shifting can be difficult to follow at times unless you keep your wits about you, though it is well signalled in the chapter headings. The inevitable paradoxes of time travel are handled well and resolved satisfactorily. The plot twists are sufficient to keep you hooked right to the end and will leave you impatient for the next novel in the series. Although this book works as a stand alone novel, I would recommend reading Book 1 first to understand more of Saskia's back story. A cracking good read. Recommended.
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on 18 October 2012
This second book is absolutely compelling.

The character development is very much more thorough, within the confines of the story's mysteries but those mysteries are profound and I still don't feel I know Saskia.

The pace of the story changes abruptly at the half-way mark, almost to the point of being hurried and there is a feeling that some things have been left rather sketchy. There is some realism in not tying up every loose end - this isn't a holistic detective story - but some scenes feel truncated leaving stories that could be told. With a third book in the series this may be very unfair, but if they aren't completed, perhaps we could have a few short short stories later, like 'Cuentos de Eva Luna'?

I enjoyed the sprinkling of European languages as they spanned my own knowledge base, but wonder if they would annoy other readers as translation is seldom supplied.

The only criticism I do have is the device "smart matter". This is quite unnecessary to the story, even if it helps in some scenes, and stretches credulity around Newton's laws without the technical justifications usually peppering this genre. I liked little things that were done with it (like the hand) but the story would have been just as fascinating without it; I-Core would have demonstrated a sufficient technology leap for the time change. (I suppose Gough's iHole postdates I-Core but still made me smile).

No minor gripes could possibly knock a star from the rating though. This is a very enjoyable book with some interesting ideas, some small new twists on identity, congruent time-travel rationale, a gripping pace and a story that I am very glad has not yet ended!
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Two aircraft crash almost 50 years apart and the last transmission of both aircraft is the meaningless word "STENDEC" - How are they linked?

Saskia Brandt: Beautiful and powerful, a time traveller from the future enhanced with cutting edge wet wiring and enhanced senses is back in the second of Ian Hocklings books.

Petty con artist and small time crook Wolfgang and his girlfriend Jem think Saskia has a secret gambling system. Why and how does she keep winning? They think they can trick her into revealing it.

Richard Cory: Another time traveller from Saskia's future. Enhanced with even more powerful systems than Saskia Brandt and accompanied by a shape shifting smart weapon. Cory thinks he is hunting for the legendary Cullinan Zero diamond and has been on its trail for 60 years - but is this his real mission?

These characters and events all become involved in an incredibly complex plot where nothing is quite as it seems. This story features multiple threads from the past and present and as the title suggests, numerous flashbacks of memories that may or may not be real.

I really enjoyed Déjà Vu, the first book in this series and have to say I liked this one even more. It is quite a demanding read though and you really do have to pay attention to follow the numerous twists and turns. Technically this book is superb. The writing is fast and complex and character development, particularly of Saskia and Jem is first class. The presentation on the Kindle is perfect too.

Overall: 5 stars - Cutting edge fast paced, complex and technically very accomplished science fiction. Please don't leave it another five years until the next one Ian!
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on 23 October 2011
Even more satisfying and complex than Deja Vu, showing a rare enough characterization of weakness from people in cyberpunk who are too often pure badasses. Another nicely twisting plot too. I look forward to the third one!
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