The Clandestine Conflict: Heroes Square
It Is 2144; Thirteen Years After The Human Race Blotted The Sun From The Sky; And The Monsters Are In Charge Now...
The first short story in Tamsin Silver’s ‘The Clandestine Conflict’ saga, ‘Heroes Square’, introduces us to the character of Maya; the only grand-daughter of the werewolf royal family. Forsaking her royal privilege, she has chosen to join ‘The Squad’, a military of Clandestine people; werewolves, shape shifters, vampires and witches, who serve as the police force for supernatural beings and humans alike.
It is 2144; thirteen years after the human race blotted the sun from the sky in an attempt to fix the Earth’s dwindling layer of Ozone, sealing their fate as an endangered species in the process. As the human race began to die out, the Clandestine people came out of hiding and attempted to save as many humans as they could. In a world ruled by supernatural beings can there be peace between the humans and their saviors? Or do they see their new existence as a prison rather than conservation? As the tremors of civil unrest, terrorism and rebellion begin to surface, we join the Clandestine Conflict at ground zero: Heroes Square.
The wonderful thing about short stories is that they propel you straight into the action and atmosphere of an imagined world. Tamsin Silver does just that with an amazing sense of character and action. While the world she presents to us is already being developed in depth through her ‘Living Dead Girl’ series of novels, a knowledge of these books is not essential to enjoy ‘Heroes Square’.
We are thrown headfirst into a futuristic dystopia which, although it throws back to her LDG world, does not rely on it solely. Cameos from characters of the series as well as grandchildren of former characters are welcomed, but they create their own present which is very engaging and enveloping without the need to harken back to their past. Of course, this short story does serve as a perfect ‘gateway’ narrative into Silver’s world and gives you a sense of her humorous grasp of dialogue and great sense of dynamic action which you can easily carry over into her longer works.
There are brilliant references for fans of literature, comics and geek culture. From Maya ‘accidentally’ referring to a bar called the Dragonfly as the ‘Firefly’, a bar where we later discover the head bartender is called Mal; to one character having the surname Harker (a vampiric reference to Bram Stoker’s hero of the same name). Silver is a knowledgeable writer with a great sense of her audience and market and she gives them exactly what they want in this action packed story.
The Clandestine military force known as ‘The Squad’ have a very Judge Dredd feel to their sci-fi armor and technological helmets, while Maya and Denika’s preference for knives and swords harkens back to the 90’s slayer days of Buffy and Angel. The fight scenes are very fluid and easy to follow, which is always a difficult aspect of the written word over film or comic book narrative, but one which Silver combats brilliantly. Meanwhile the imagery is suitably sexy but accessible. These characters are people and within this short story we are introduced to a group of friends with strong relationships, back stories and possibilities which excite us for future releases.
While the story is set in the future, it is still very much grounded in reality. Silver has chosen to base the story in the futuristic realm of her own town, New York. The references to new monuments as memorials of future wars and conflicts create a believable society on top of one that is very familiar to a world audience. The theme of terrorism is a poignant one that does not seem far-fetched in such a city; and in fact shows a brilliant theme of questioning the repetition of history. Even in a futuristic world of supernatural beings, Silver finds a way to bring the themes of her story back to a modern reality and suck her audience in through universal themes.
Overall this is an exciting introduction to a wonderful author. Bringing female protagonists out of the Bella ages and back to the world of Buffy and Faith; Silver is a champion for strong, sexy, female heroes. Yet her male heroes are not sidelined because of this. Silver’s work is all about the relationships between real people, whether female or male; and consequently they are all just as strong, interesting and alluring as each other. Needless to say, this is a series I cannot wait to hear more from.
Anastasia is a Freelance Illustrator, Writer and Actress based in Wales, UK.
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