Scott A Young

Publisher: Green Bar Books Pages: 316 Price: (ebook) $4.99 ISBN: 9781964323008 Reviewed: May, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Selfies, book one in Scott A. Young’s proposed Manifold series, is a dystopian thriller focusing on the adventures of downtrodden “subhuman” Wallas Trapmore, wrongfully accused of murder by authorities, who becomes a fugitive to clear his name.

The novel starts with Trapp working as an “indent” (indentured servant), part of a workforce orbiting Earth facsimile, Terra, to expunge his criminal record and acquire full Terran citizenship. The job he’s assigned— working near the Manifold, an orbital electricity storage contraption that provides power for consumers—is extremely dangerous. Trapp, however, completes his mission, surviving an encounter with the Manifold and earning Terran citizenship.

Trapp means to use his freedom to investigate the unsolved murder of his mum, Jessi. Unfortunately, he is subsequently arrested for murdering renowned scientist Phileas Gray, whose Manifold technology helped foster world peace after a conflict dubbed The Carbon War. Following Trapp’s prison break, interested parties advise him to use his “new-found freedom for a bigger mission. Find Professor Gray’s murderer. Prove your innocence.”

Packed with intrigue, action and creative energy, Selfies is breathlessly paced, combining the near-future sensibilities of a William Gibson novel with the wrongfully accused thriller tropes of yore. Trapp is an engaging protagonist whose quest is peppered with risky encounters.

Meanwhile, Terra’s recognizable future, with its internet-like Plexus and smart-tech, is plausibly rendered, featuring an array of science-fiction paraphernalia such as uber-intelligent AI’s, clone-like doppelgangers, and quantum-mirrors. Yet while the novel brims with gadgetry and scholarship, the author admirably avoids jargon in favor of bantering dialogue, action, and imaginative plot-twists.

If the novel has a flaw, it’s that a romance between Trapp and his partner-in-crime, Bretta, is somewhat underdeveloped. However, Selfies is such a page-turning thrill-ride, this feels like a minor quibble.

Effortlessly blending humor, interrelated narrative threads and relatable science-fiction components into an urgent narrative, Selfies will appeal to a variety of genre fans, which bodes well for future stories set in the Manifold universe.

Author's Current Residence
Charlotte, North Carolina
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