[Starfall/REPOST] Metal Fire #7, False Maria 01

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 5 21:54:27 PDT 2006


And so, Wil Alambre, the man who puts so much time and effort into his
RACC page (check out that gorgeous cover to Jolt City!!!) has once
again thrown his hat into the writer's ring.  I had read this issue of
Metal Fire not more than a year ago, along with the first issue of
Wil's Marlo Vivo.

Marlo had some fairly strong character work, an interesting plot, and
above all, ambiance.  Smoke-filled, dirty, scratchy, grimey, sexy
ambiance.  And since the mere mention of cigarettes or drugs makes me
queasier than most, the fact that he managed to get this reader in
synch with such a downbeat, almost cheerfully nihilistic vibe-- well,
that takes some doing.

Hell, I still remember a line from Marlo Vivo, in which he compared
someone's speaking manner to a teacher about to paddle her ass.  Sexy
and grimey all at once, and memorable, to boot.

And here in Metal Fire # 7, Wil has a fair amount of ambiance too.
It's a different kind of ambiance-- very spiffy, tech-heavy, a dark
world lit only by the peristent flicker of a computer screen-- not
exactly the kind of noir nihilism of Marlo Vivo, but not exactly
upbeat, either.

Our hero is a hacker-for-hire; his opponent, a strange and beautiful
angel of silver.  Other characters of interest include a woman who
wants to get into nanotechnology and the shadowy head of a company.
All these characters are, in some way, defined by the technology around
them.  In fact, even the metaphors Wil uses-- drawing a comparision,
for example, between a bad game of Ms. Pac-Man and the appearance of
the silvery woman-- are based in technology.

This entire first issue, from my point of view, serves to ground us in
the world of the characters, and to make that world exciting: though I
had no idea what the hell Eddy the hacker was doing (having all the
computer/hacking sense of a small, computer-illiterate non-hacking
thing), I was marvelling at his intellect and the way he met every
challenge.  And when you've got a character engaging in what amounts to
gobbedlygook (for this reader) and I'm still admiring him: that's no
easy feat.

And I think that comes from the ambiance, from the atmosphere-- which I
really think is Wil's strength as a writer.

Now, some of the scenes I didn't respond to as well-- the scene
introducing Mr. Hamilton seems kinda by-the-numbers, and he doesn't
really interest me the way Eddy and this silver angel (the false maria
of the title?  only time will tell) do.  But on a whole, Wil has me
looking forward to the next issue.

One other thing: I don't really have any experience with the Starfall
universe, having tried to get into it but never really managing.  So I
have no real idea what the previous six issues of Metal Fire are about,
how much Wil is bringing to the table and how much he's building on.

But you know what?  So far, the story's working on its own.  And that
says something right there.


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