Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus By Milo Behr


    This isn’t a story about characters; there’s really only one character we can claim to know in this entire book, and even Beowulf himself remains largely a mystery, even with the tantalizing peeks given into the morality behind the armoured bear suit. And it’s not a story that focuses on the universe Behr has created, because even though we know enough to understand what’s happening, as we read, we don’t know enough to not be intrigued. What this was for me was a story about those facets of society today that could lead us towards the future portrayed in Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus—our wanton sensationalism, compulsive voyeurism and latent vigilantism.

    What I liked most about the book was that nothing was as it seemed to be at first, like Beowulf not being a thoughtless machine. When it started, the conflict didn’t seem like anything really special; a bunch of mass murders perpetrated by high-profile people, but it turned into something that was not just engrossing for all the mystery and awesomely-written action, but thought provoking as well.

    The style of writing takes some getting used to, but it didn’t take long to realize it was style and not ignorance that drove the wonky punctuation. Behr’s use of words is impressive, and there was humour laced into this intense book, both serving to make it a virtually un-put-downable good read. I eagerly await the second instalment. Five stars!
    Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus I won a copy of this short quirky novel in a Goodreads giveaway. It's a fun story examining a superhero in a cyber-pervasive future set about ninety years from now. I call it quirky because it's written in a sometimes awkward present tense narrative, and sometimes the dialog is summarized without quotation marks which gets a little clumsy, and the last chapter is far longer than any of the others and switches back and forth in time a little confusingly, but the overall effect seems to hold together pretty well. There were several phrases thrown in that were in Chinese and French that were a little discordant for no good reason, and, as is common with small press titles, there were a few copy-editing errors that should have been caught. (Canon is not cannon, for example.) But I wouldn't have noticed what I perceived as flaws if I hadn't thought it was a pretty good and memorable story. There's a preview of the second volume at the end and it looks like fun, too. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus It was a fun, fast read that was somewhat thought-provoking, but overall pretty light fare. Films like the Running Man and Robocop came to mind while I was reading. It also brought to mind the comic X-Statix, which also explored super heroes and violence as a commercial commodity.

    Aside from the story itself, I was put off by the overall formatting of the book. Monologue/dialogue was randomly presented in different styles (this seemed very contrived to me and served no purpose), and seemingly poor editing.

    I am curious to see where Behr goes with Beowulf 2. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus I won this little novella on First Reads and read the entire thing in one sitting. It's shorter than what I was expecting it to be, even after having received it. The last twenty or thirty pages are an excerpt from the second book in the series, so the actual book is only something like 150 pages.

    I liked the author's style and sense of humor, but more than anything, I really enjoyed the dialogue shared between characters. It's spot on. It's an entertaining tale in a dangerous, chaotic world. No one is safe! Cops, politicians, and even Santa Claus are enemies here.

    I wish I had gotten to spend more time with the characters though, and no, not in the I'd like to read an entire series about these people kind of way either. After it was over, I felt like the characters could have all been replaced and the story wouldn't have changed in any way.

    Also, the editing/formatting is pretty distracting. Every sentence has about five spaces between the last and the curse words have all been censored with asterisks. Either say the word or don't, don't censor it. Completely took me out of the story every time that happened. The dialogue also shifts from using the traditional quotation marks to not using them (Cormac McCarthy-style). Either way is fine by me, but using both styles in the same book for no reason at all is confusing.

    Overall, I enjoyed the story and will read the second book out of curiosity (which I guess I'll be getting for free come January for writing this review...at least that's what the publisher's letter that came with the book said. We'll see.) Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus Much like J.K. Rowling did with fantasy, Behr seems to come out of no where as a master of the scifi genre. Not since Blade Runner have I been so completely transported to an awesomely constructed future. And unlike Blade Runner, Behr has the advantage of having seen into the future a few more years, creating an even more intriguing Blade Runneresque future by mixing in believable, and highly thought provoking, social media and hard core science elements. Think Blade Runner meets The Hunger Games. And yet as legitimate as the future science is, the prose doesn't go too Neil Stephenson - Behr manages to keep it light and highly entertaining with his comic book action sequences. (Before you send me a hate comment, Cryptonomicon is one of my all time favorite books.) This is a novelette I highly recommend equally to the casual blue-moon scifi reader, as well as to those that, like me, grew up reading Asimov and Orson Scott Card. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus

    Welcome, he says, to the fabulous fabulous Lawrence Booth show. His flamboyance is well-practiced. They all know him, he's world-renowned (he reminds them). Then he calls them the faceless masses, says he doesn't care who they are. It's a familiar deadpan, his particular brand of sensationalism through effrontery. Then he gets more personal, but it isn't sincere—how could it be? I'll be your guide, he says, your mentor, your guru, your spiritual advisor, leading you along the sordid paths of the sublime, the seedy, and the sensational. And it's true, he will be.

    This is Lawrence Booth, host of a 22nd-century variety show; an ultimate evolution of vaudeville; a tangible expression of social media and a venue for the people's justice. And his favorite toy is a superhero—a popular bounty hunter called Beowulf.

    When New York's paragons turn to violent crime, it falls to Booth and Beowulf to restore order (and, more importantly, to make a good show of it). Is this an unraveling of the social fabric? Have our leaders turned, as parasites on a host? Or are they victims themselves of a society dependent on the wonders—and the dangers—of high technology?

    Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus, is a frenetic exploration of logical extremes. It's about superheroes as the products of marketing machines, social media as a fundamental and frightening social adhesive, summary justice as a Utilitarian exigency. It's part mystery, part thriller, all in the plugged-in context of a cyberpunk future.

    And it's one a helluva ride.

    GRAND PRIZE WINNER! Book Pipeline.
    WINNER! IPPY Gold Medal for BEST SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR.
    WINNER! Independent Author Network SCI-FI BOOK OF THE YEAR.
    WINNER! London Book Festival BEST SCI-FI.
    WINNER! Beverly Hills Book Awards BEST SCI-FI. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus

    As I said in my Amazon review of Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus, I think it's deserving of a place in the Cyberpunk canon, next to entries by such luminaries as Stephenson and Gibson, but the most exciting thing to me is that Milo Behr is just getting started. I can't wait to see what's in store next. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus was a great ride, a journey in another land and time, a journey filled with mystery, emotions, fear and most of all suspense. I came to love Beowulf for what he does, for how he acts in this crazy frenetic world.

    Beowulf is a complex character. Always trying to bring the peace in, the world in which he is stuck is more like a TV show where anything can happen. And each one of us has a Beowulf inside himself. We all try to make the right decisions, protect the truth and the peace even if we don’t always succeed.

    Living in a technology controlled future, he teaches a lesson worth learning: technology is not always made to help us and make our lives easier. We must be very careful what exactly we create. Small errors can ruin our lives or even kill us.

    This book will stay with me. It's subtly changed my way of thinking about technology, future, decisions, and even made me think hard about humanity. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus The future of an ancient myth.
    A futuristic mystery that really did have me guessing. Superheros doing advertising plugs while trying to catch the villian. Justice at your finger tips. I was completely surprised by who the bad guy was. I did not expect that. It was a true pleasure to read this. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus is a dry sterile tale in a world that should be brimming with the smell of ozone, sweat and concrete. Instead we're dealing with stop-start stream of consciousness that doesn't build people or the world they live in. It's hard to get into, hard to stay in, and I feel like little was gained when I left it behind. This is not a book I would buy the next in the series too, and felt blessed that it was a loaner.

    Styling jumps strange places, chapter to chapter, and I think that novella was the wrong medium for this particular work. It would have been better served in motion - comics, short film, whatever. But we are given little to no detail of Beowulf's world, just a suggestion of the throng of humanity that's become a bigger clusterfuck than it is now, a bizarre legal system, and a world that has as much substance as a soap bubble.

    This isn't to say it's bad. It isn't. It stops short of being bad. It's just not very good. It hits several of the right cyberpunk notes, but it seems like a list of tv tropes tossed in a salad spinner than any coherent worldbuilding or character creation. Beowulf is a grizzled murder man in a city that lauds them. He does the killing. Occasionally he regrets it. A hot dame is rescued, a conspiracy uncovered. It's paint by numbers techno-thriller with no thrills. There's so many points where I see glimmers of potential, only to never have them touched upon or explained.

    There could have been a magnificent book here. Behr's got some good lines (the red meat line was fucking on point!) but he needs to give me a lot more to have me come back, because I definitely won't be picking up the rest of the series. Maybe we'll see what shakes out of him a couple of years down the road, with a couple more books out. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus Beowulf is the type to put on a show. Well, that's really his job. He works with Lawrence Booth, the DJ of a show. Beowulf hunts down criminals and Booth obtains a sentence handed down by his viewers. While Beowulf saves the day, Booth broadcasts it to his viewers in the hopes of good ratings. That's what the future is like. This is how justice is in the year 2104.

    At first the book is difficult to get into and, subsequently, it's taken me a while to read. I think the main problem is that the beginning is a broadcast to heaps of viewers, but it gets a little bit convoluted because the author needs to explain a lot of information at once and it's confusing due to that. The overall book reminds me of a few other futuristic plots I've read or seen. I first thought it very similar to Demolition Man. However, it's also like the Dredd franchise is what it seemed most familiar to, for me. Though, instead of Beowulf choosing the sentence, it's done by a public choice. The thing that most seemed reminiscent is that essentially it's a one man crusade against evil, which is what makes it seem kind of cliché. Except, with Beowulf, much of it seems like more of a performance. In the midst of battle, he is still trying to make it look cool to the follow cams. He snipes one liners and tries to make his kills look better for whoever might be watching. Or reading, in this case.

    In fact, it's cliché in a lot of aspects as well. In some areas, it just seems like a generic action movie where we begin with a bunch of people doing bad stuff for, what we don't understand but seems like, no reason. The good guys get confused at this. Instead of doing his job, Beowulf takes up his own investigation and uncovers more than a ton of other people combined can. My main consideration is that he never would have found out the criminal plot without his female companion telling him to look into something. In fact, that's one of the other things that bothers me. He stumbled upon the answer to the problem quite easily. He was literally looking into something else and, through that, found out everything he needed to know about the criminal mastermind behind the plot. We go through a few more action scenes and then we even have our bad guy running through his whole plot and reasons behind his work. It seemed very much like a lot of movies where the bad guy can't keep his mouth shut and confesses just to pass the time in the book. Later, he actually gives a few reasons for his criminal confession, one being that he actually did need to pass the time. Sometimes, in the book, I can't make my mind up. It sometimes seems like a plot from a generic action move. In other portions, it kind of feels like that's the direction the author is putting it through deliberately; is if it's some sort of parody of those types of movies or other related media.

    Let's get back to Beowulf. He's a one man army. From the beginning descriptions of the author, he seems big and strong. He wears body armour and is awesome at everything he does. Though, he seems somewhat weaker as we go along because he relies on the decisions of the public to lay down his version of justice. He essentially, in his reality, is an actor where his only job is to do what the public want from him. It just makes him seem, to me, like a very weak person. Sure, he would probably best me in a fight, if I'm honest. However, he wouldn't be able to without someone else telling him what to do.

    As for other characters... They seem kind of generic as well. Alexis is probably the most useless character. We get introduced to her by happenstance. She's just walking along and bam, we find out who she is. It turns out that she's a model, beautiful, smart, and other kind of generic qualities to make her seem better than she is. I don't deny that she's beautiful or smart, but her entire presence just seems really unnecessary. She commits crimes and then Beowulf immediately wants to take her to his home and keep her. It's his job to deal with justice but somehow, when she becomes involved, he turns kind of incompetent and can't seem to do it anymore. Later on, we get some scenes at his place and she tries to have sex with him. She doesn't even bother seducing him, she just wants to have it off with him because she's bored. She actually says that in the book, too; that the only reason she wants to have sex with him is because she's bored. Later on, she provides minimal interest. She pretty much just lazes about his apartment and looks beautiful. She's generally unlikeable because she is kind of whiny, demanding and also useless. She just seems like such a wasted character that could amount to more. Bennett seems equally generic. His wife died and that's his main reason for doing what he does in his life. I won't go into that because it provides spoiler-ish aspects, but his entire plot line is kind of cliché.

    I actually liked the premise of the book. I think the futuristic world was created reasonably well. There are all sorts of futuristic devices and gadgets that seem interesting to me. The better part of that point is that they all seem realistic and the author doesn't stretch it too far. What I mean here is that they could have added anything they wanted, but here it's believable because they've created gadgets or technology that seem fitting for that era in the future. Mixed with that, we have little throwbacks and tidbits of information to the past. There are portions in the book where characters mention prior events that add more information to the future society, like the mentions of special events that happen in our future, but would be common history for the characters.

    Overall, despite the various cliché areas, I didn't think it was a bad book. It's written reasonably well, despite a generic plot, the author has an interesting style of writing. I would like to read more from this author. I would probably like to read the next book in this series, in fact, just because it's kind of an interesting future for our society and I'd like to see more of that. As for this book, I would rate it three stars. It's not terrible, but it's not brilliant either. I'm choosing to mark it up a star because I thought it had some redeeming qualities to it. I was particularly impressed with the way the author wrote the future society and thought that was well done. The characters and plot could use a lot of help, though. Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus

    review Ñ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Ó Milo Behr

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