Mark Richardson’s Hunt for the Troll (New Pulp Press) is a step up from ordinary pulp. It’s what happens to San Francisco noir when the shiny new promise of Silicon Valley comes to town, pushing back the fog to play some light in the corners. In this case, the light is more ominous than the dark. Our comfortable eyes, adjusted to the power outage, are burned by the glare when the lights go on.
Gone is the reluctant hero and snubnose pistol stoicism; in their place are dot.com entrepreneurism and quantum computing. Gone are the troubled dame and her leggy needs; in their place are the chessboard and another step toward transhumanism.
The narrator’s a cipher, a man without a name, an identity tattooed on his arm in binary code and a bad-ass alter-ego in the gaming world of Centre Terrain. He’s king and serf in his own domain, part creator and part creation. His story proceeds between worlds: the real world of breakfasts and sex; the gaming paradise he helped build, not unlike a Tolkien wet dream; and that place between sleep and wakefulness that isn’t a dream but nor is it quite real. Is it?