Avery Cates: The Walled City

With The Electric Church (Canada, USA, Europe), The Digital Plague (Canada, USA, Europe), The Eternal Prison (Canada, USA, Europe), The Terminal State (Canada, USA, Europe), and The Final Evolution (Canada, USA, Europe), Jeff Somers introduced us to Avery Cates, a not very likeable gunner you can't help but root for. Down on his luck most of the time and not always the sharpest tool in the shed, Cates' first person narrative has been a highlight since the opening chapter of the very first volume.

If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you probably remember that I promoted Somers' series as much as I could every time a new novel was released. And though it's been five years since the last installment, it was fun to be reunited with Avery Cates in "The Shattered Gears", the first short story that chronicles the aftermath of the original book sequence.

The last volume, The Final Evolution, appeared to bring the overall story arc to an end and no other misadventures seemed to be forthcoming for our favorite gunner. But now, someone appears to be looking for Cates. Someone set up a trap to capture him. And in "The Shattered Gears" we found out that the answers he's looking for might be in Moscow. Only Moscow got turned into slag during the war. Now in "The Walled City", Cates knows that some people are after him and he's trying to discover who they are and why they're searching for him. But first, he needs to survive in a world where mankind seems to be on the brink of extinction.

Here's the blurb:

Continuing Avery Cates' story from "The Shattered Gears," "The Walled City" sees the aging Gunner tangle with a psionic who has set himself up as a City Lord in the crumbling remnants of civilization.

As usual, the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding is a nice touch giving the series its own flavor. This being a piece of short fiction means that this facet remains in the background and doesn't intrude on the tale itself. Still, readers will definitely feel on familiar grounds. Now that the entire world order has collapsed, powerful individuals are manoeuvering to carve up small kingdoms and city-states for themselves. With most technology no longer working, psionics are gradually coming into power around the world.

The first person narrative filled with wise cracks and dark humor makes for an enjoyable reading experience. As I mentioned before, Avery Cates is a despicable, manipulative, immoral, lousy, and sick fuck. Yet for all his faults and shortcomings, it's well nigh impossible not to root for the poor sod.

You can always count on Cates to somehow find himself in deep trouble, even when he's not looking for it. And now that he's actually looking for it, you can be sure that he's going to find it! Add an extremely gifted psionic and his henchmen, as well as former Stormers from the System, to the mix, and you have the habitual recipe for disaster for Cates. Which bodes well for us!

Following on the heels of "The Shattered Gears", "The Walled City" shows that even though Avery Cates is an old man past his expiration date, and even though it appears that this is mankind's final generation on this Earth, it looks as though fate still has a lot in store for him. Whether he likes it or not.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

You can download this piece of short fiction for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the book trailer:

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