Imagine a future where people addicted to reliving other peoples’ memories they will give up everything for the experience. That is where former shock jock, Johnny C. Vid, finds himself at the beginning of The Butcher’s Tale by Nicholas Walls.
In the future, a new technology known as Vicarious Reality (VR for short) has become a popular past time. It allows you to experience your greatest fantasies without actually doing them yourselves. Even though it is someone else’s memories, you feel like it is happening to you. The sights, the smells, the excitement, all feel like the real thing when it is nothing more than a replay piped through a physical connection in your brain. That is where we find Johnny C. Vid, a former popular shock jock, turned unemployed and homeless VR addict. So desperate for a fix, he goes to where his current supplier obtains his recordings in the lowest levels of the city. It is there that he finds a massive man wearing a pig mask hunting for people to torture. It doesn’t take long for Johnny to find himself impaled on a meat hook, wishing for death.
The first half of this book was a good read for fans of slasher horror tales. The amount of blood and violence is on par with what you’d find in a “Friday the 13th” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie. Johnny also gives off serious Captain Ahab vibes as he remains focused only on his pursuit of destroying the man in the pig mask, whom he calls “The Butcher.” The reason “The Butcher” tortures his prey is also clearly given: he too is a VR addict. The difference? He rips the recordings from his victim’s minds so he can relive every juicy moment of pain, fear, and anguish. For Johnny C. Vid, it’s not some noble quest to vanquish the demon but straight-up vengeance.
What took me out of the story was, after the midpoint, the narrative shifts from horror to space opera/spy thriller. To me, it felt a bit disjointed after Johnny got his revenge, and the horror aspect ended. Overall it is a good read, but only if you look at it as two books, an original and the sequel, for the price of one.
Until next time, Addicts!