Eva van Emden (she/her), freelance editor

Certified copy editor and proofreader


March 22, 2012

Strange Flesh by Michael Olson

One thing the internet reveals is that the world contains multitudes of people just like you . . . Some people are looking to share their thoughts, others are looking to share . . . other things.
Strange Flesh Michael Olson As heartbreak leads to loneliness, which leads in turn to net porn and no-strings dating sites, the wear and tear on James Pryce’s body and soul are beginning to build up. When the Randall twins, rich acquaintances from college, hire him to go undercover to find their brother, it seems like an opportunity to step off the path his life has taken recently. Instead, it leads to an online world defined by the escalating demands of the Fever, orchestrated by an artist who likes nothing better than to see his virtual creations bleed into real life.

I loved it. The ongoing themes of compulsion and addiction, secrecy and shame make for a satisfying underpinning to a well-plotted story of digital trickery and a feuding family. The technical detail rings true (although I’d never heard of using foot pedals for your modifier keys). Best of all, the writing is very good indeed, and the narrator’s dry delivery makes certain grotesqueries funnier than perhaps they should be.

So is it Neal Stephenson plus titillation? Not really. There’s geek service, but our hero is a social engineer, not a brain. And social though he is, don’t expect to find too much erotica here. It reminded me more of Chuck Palahniuk, with maybe the slightest whiff of Less than Zero. Call it a thriller with geek appeal. Transgressive geek appeal.

Publication date April 3, 2012
Strange Flesh excerpt

Reviewed from a free copy sent by the publisher.