***Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards 2018***
From Hollywood Hills mansions and Century City towers, to South Central motels and the oceanside refinery, The Beasts of Electra Drive by Rohan Quine spans a mythic L.A., following seven spectacular characters (or Beasts) from games designer Jaymi’s game-worlds. The intensity of those Beasts’ creation cycles leads to their release into real life in seemingly human forms, and to their combative protection of him from destructive rivals at mainstream company Bang Dead Games. Grand spaces of beauty interlock with narrow rooms of terror, both in the real world and in the incorporeal world of cyberspace. A prequel to Quine’s other five tales, The Beasts of Electra Drive is a unique explosion of glamour and beauty, horror and enchantment, exploring the mechanisms and magic of creativity itself.
Jaymi is an independent games designer living on Electra Drive in the Hollywood Hills. Opposed to him are his former colleagues at Bang Dead Games. Their mounting competitiveness regarding his own extravagant game-creation reaches a point where they attack him physically with a flying drone.
Bang Dead is preparing the global release of a game called Ain’tTheyFreaky!, centring on five tabloid-flavoured social-media “Newsfeeds” for the victimisation of certain people by others—the “Gal Score”, “Guy Score”, “Trivia Score”, “Arts Score” and “Cosy Score”. Jaymi decides to fight back, for self-protection and to counteract this game’s destructive effects.
He takes an irrevocable step: after creating Amber, the most dangerous of the characters (or Beasts, as he calls them) who will populate Jaymi’s project The Platinum Raven, he releases Amber from that game, such that Amber slithers out of Jaymi’s computer monitor. Appearing human, this now-incarnated Beast is sent to stalk Ain’tTheyFreaky!’s creators in real life—Dud, Kelly, Ashley and Herb.
While Amber terrorises them, Jaymi creates a second Beast, Evelyn, from his project The Imagination Thief. Incarnated too, she joins Amber in sabotaging a Bang Dead venture in the physical world.
As Jaymi’s output spawns three more titles, he jumps into the creation cycles and incarnations of five more human-seeming Beasts: Shigem, Kim, the Platinum Raven, Scorpio and the Jaymi Beast.
Targeted by a more lethal drone attack, he decides his Beasts’ missions must escalate: they will infiltrate the very substance of Ain’tTheyFreaky!. So Evelyn, Shigem and Kim sneak into one of the game’s visual environments, where they try to put an end to some of its casually-programmed cruelty. Shigem and Kim shame two Bang Dead employees into secretly working for Jaymi instead.
Five Beasts proceed to sabotage Ain’tTheyFreaky! at code level, turning its own server farm into a radically different environment. Their sabotage breaks the game down into its constituent glyphs and pixels—then electrifies these, recombining them into brand-new forms of such enchanted love and wickedness and originality that they’d certainly have been forbidden by Bang Dead.
Amid the resultant conflict, a Beast is sent to kill a human; a Beast is arrested, before escaping and wreaking revenge; and another human is lashed to the transmitter tower above the Hollywood Sign, where…
After the ensuing convulsions of destruction and violent creation, Jaymi’s Beasts slip away to their appointed onscreen destinations, one by one; and he is left alone again, just as he was before he brought them into being. As he fires up his newly-completed game The Imagination Thief for the first time, however, it is clear that neither he nor the world around him will ever quite be as before.