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Bloody War

by Terry Grimwood

276 pages

Bloody War. Always on the news, from somewhere around the world. War seems to be something humanity just cannot get out of its system. And yet, for most of us here in the UK, war is little more than a spectacle where we sit comfortably, tut-tutting over horrors taking place in far off and unknown lands, before returning to our grumbles about the spending cuts or immigration or whatever else it is that sets you off. That’s as far as it goes, save maybe for memories and stories of the dark days of WWII. But just suppose that all-out war was to come to Great Britain again? War where fire and death rain down from the skies again and where cities are reduced to corpse-strewn rubble? War against the ghosts of an unknown assailant and where patriotic media-induced insanity takes over our entire consciousness. Just remember how the Falklands War gave us a “Gotcha!” as the Belgrano sank, or how Gulf War Two hung upon a certain dodgy weapons dossier, before you get too comfy on your sofa.

This dark, bloody and very British apocalyptic novel explores just this idea, and with terrifying plausibility. Simultaneously a thrilling page-turner and a tough and painful read filled with horrifically recognizable imagery and characters, this book paints a picture of England at war with an unknown assailant and the dark and dirty depths that lurk behind that. But this is no mere rehash of WWII madness. This war is modern – contemporary. War in the age of stealth fighter drones and advanced surveillance technology. War in the age of media paranoia and modern conspiracy theory.

Imagine George Orwell’s 1984 updated for 2011, with the focus on family, character and relationships rather than political ideology, and you might have the measure of Bloody War. This book, like our society, is one where politics has become an opaque and distant game, and where most people can see no further than their own living rooms. If we are not careful then the price for such false comfort, Terry Grimwood seems to suggest, may one day be terrible indeed.

 

"…BLOODY WAR makes for a strong post-9/11 addition to the English-centric likes of BRAVE NEW WORLD, 1984, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and V FOR VENDETTA in its pitiless vision of a catastrophic war that destroys England (and, it’s implied, much of the rest of the world), a vision that in grit and sheer bleakness far outdoes most every other recent fictional dystopia…

…This, needless to say, is not a pleasant book. Its sense of realism is unerring and impressive, but it’s that very attribute that makes the proceedings so devastating. The actions of the corrupt authorities and the shadowy EoD are not at all unconvincing in these days of terror alerts and mass rioting in London (in light of which BLOODY WAR seems far more topical than it did when it was initially published).”

Adam Groves - Fright.com

 

“…This is Grimwood’s first full novel and it’s an impressive, well visualised piece of fiction. His depiction of an embattled UK is extremely vivid; virtually to the point where you can smell the suppressed, insinuated violence… and the decaying dead. Grimwood’s characterisation is pointed and concise with only that of Pete Allman being analysed intimately. There is an authenticity about the characters, rendering them tangible and alive with realised personalities and temperaments. I also appreciated Grimwood’s ability to drop some subtle music references into the story, be it The Who, Thin Lizzy or Black Sabbath.Comparisons are no doubt going to level Bloody War with Orwell’s 1984. Both books suggest individualism is a punishable crime; both paint a subservient, politically apathetic society where advanced surveillance and misinformation keeps the people pacified; both focus on a subversive, humanist antihero; both feature a war against an unknown, unseen enemy. The error of the comparison is that 1984 looked forward, making an ideological, political statement, whereas Bloody War is set in the present and, while political (the Enemies Of Democracy has clear parallels with the Bush-instigated War On Terror), retains a more personal, conversational perspective.This is a highly engaging thriller which, when considered as a whole, has ramifications that border the horrific. Definitely recommended – and I haven’t even mentioned the jarring, electrifying, never-saw-it-coming finale…”

Steven Scanner - Mass Movement Magazine

 

“…Is this a political novel? It is if you have been following current world advents and have numerous questions surrounding the validity of those advents. In this respect the book resonates on an emotional level that almost induces anger. Who are we really fighting in any war? Who are the real leaders? The lines are not black and white anymore, if they ever were, and Pete’s personal journey is like a reflection for humanity as a whole. Although the majority march blindly to the war drums in any crusade, there is hope, for there will always be those who step out of the throng and entice others to follow. With a healthy smattering of George Orwell’s 1984 merged with the cat and mouse chase of celluloid excursions like Blade Runner and Minority Report, Terry Grimwood brings modern warfare all bloody and shrieking right into the dark heart of Western Society…”

Matthew Tait - Different Masks

 

“…Grimwood is bang on the money, with his nebulous Enemies of Democracy,a conflict in which the opponent is always some vague bogeyman used as a pretext by the authorities for greater restrictionson our civil liberties. Equally, there are literary comparisons begging to be made, as for instance with the totalitarian state as portrayed in Orwell’s 1984, but more appositely I feel it brings to mind the work of Philip K. Dick, both in the reality dislocation of the opening chapters, as Pete adjusts to what has gone wrong with his world, and in the ending with its echoes of work like Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly. Grimwood handles this aspect very well, the character’s confusion coming over strongly, the sense of being a stranger in a strange land, victim of a world he never made, with the clues deftly planted. A former biker and reformed criminal, Allman (the name is presumably intended to reference Pete’s status as a representative of all men) is a family man and all round good egg, somebody most readers will be able to identify with, an ordinary guy trying to do right by himself and others, not infallible but willing to own up to his mistakes. We can respect his close relationship with his wife and daughters, the way in which he tries to save his son from being chewed up by the military machine. He is someone who attempts to do the right thing, no matter how difficult that may be and even when he isn’t actually sure what the right thing to do is. Grimwood is equally adept at capturing some of the horror and futility of war, the way in which the civilian population are brainwashed into accepting the unthinkable and pursuing a hateful agenda, with asides on the techniques of the police state…

In conclusion, Bloody War was a potentially excellent dystopian tale, a serious book about serious matters, an engaging and often repellent slice of drama, with a believable protagonist, one whose dilemma is rendered compellingly on the page…”

Peter Tennant - Black Static

 

 “…Pete’s amnesia is very selective; he remembers his family and his job writing software but cannot remember a thing about the war. Although he initially questions his own sanity, it is the certainty of everyone around him that convinces him that he appears to have lost eighteen months of memory. In this way the author puts the audience right inside Pete’s predicament. Everything which is new to him is new to us as well. It’s a neat trick which works well.

Stylistically the book is written in a very conversational manner, which makes the narrative very accessible. Through the novel we follow Pete’s journey across his country and society ending in the discovery of the surprising truth. Along the way our everyman goes from timid voyeur on events to active participant as those around him die…”

Charles Packer - SciFi Online

 

…Pete is a fine hero; an everyman driven by righteous anger and the compassion to protect not just himself or his family, but anyone he can. His understanding that he is risking his own safety trying to do what is right and just – and suffering accordingly – resonates with the reader. He is far from perfect and when his courage is tested it sometimes wavers, the reader is silently asked whether they would do the same, making this reviewer really care for his fate. The plot strides with perfectly judged pace, the tension and horror escalating from scene to scene… “

Simon Appleby - Bookgeeks

 

What the author is good at is painting his protagonist into ever tighter corners. He’s at his best imagining the details of, say, how his exhausted man might cope with rowing a tiny boat across a strong current, or how one might go about dressing a flesh-wound in the heat of battle given no practical experience of first-aid, or evade the secret police in WHSmith. These moments of desperate concentration are precisely imagined, and one has the impression that the author is keen to get the details right…

The plot is tightly wound, and rolls out neatly from its original premise with considerable momentum. The protagonist single-mindedly pursues his goal, and everything is tied up carefully at the end. There are no dangling tangents or flabby chunks of dialogue left lying around. It kept me interested enough to find out what on earth was going on…”

John Greenwood -  Theaker’s Quarterly

 

“The novel roars along at a blistering pace and there are plenty of cliff-hangers. I read the book in two sittings but many readers will require only one. It is very difficult to elaborate on the plot at too great a depth without releasing spoilers, but the novel is packed with twists and turns and these continue until the final page…

…Both refreshing and disturbing, Bloody War is a speculative gem; an honest, well written ‘What If?’ novel. It proposes an old fashioned war coming to modern-times London and describes deliciously the societal vacuums and issues this creates.”

Paul Wilks - The Future Fire

 

“This fast-paced book has twists and turns, and the story pulls you this way and that. This is a thriller, written in a surprisingly conversational, intimate tone, allowing you as the reader to travel on Pete’s journey with him. Grimwood’s tale is gripping from the first page and definitely has that PTQ: Page Turning Quality. His character Pete is one you can easily relate to. In fact, Pete could be anyone….the man next to you in the shopping queue….or even you or me…”

Nicolette Heaton-Harris - Horror Zine website

 

“Bloody War is utterly terrifying. The first person narrative makes the story more immediate, and the tension is cranked up by scenes of awful claustrophobia and the constant threat of death. But I think what really drives home the fear is the way the story is set now, in a London that’s both completely transformed yet easily recognisable, using the language of conflict we’ve all heard in the media and recognisable and believable weaponry…

…Bloody War is an important book, a timely warning about political complacency and the insidious erosion of our rights. And the ending, which brings the story’s relevance to the real world into clear and startling focus, blew me away.”

Ros Jackson -  Warpcore SF

 

“…one of the most interesting science fiction books I’ve read during the last year.

…Most apocalyptic books are usually action-driven books, but Bloody War is partly a character-driven book. It focuses mainly on relationships and how the main character feels about certain things. This is good, because it adds depth, harsh realism and complexity to the story.

…Terry Grimwood writes fluently and the plot is intriguing. I think that several readers will find Bloody War interesting, because it’s a harsh and cruel story about war. Bloody War isn’t an easy book, but it’s rewarding reading experience.”

Sami Airola - Rising Shadow

 

Suffolk-born Terry Grimwood started his working life as an electrician and is now a college lecturer, having travelled full-circle from doing the job to teaching it (which he prefers). Along the way he has been a quality assurance manager, project manager and technical author. He is the author of numerous short stories and reviews which have appeared in Midnight Street, Bare Bone, Murky Depths, All Hallows, FutureFire and Eibonvale Press’s own Blind Swimmer anthology among others. He has written and directed three plays and runs the Exaggerated Press which started when he published his first collection, The Exaggerated Man. His novella, The Places Between is available from Pendragon Press and his novel Axe will be published by bad Moon Press in late in 2011. Terry’s web site can be found at http://exaggeratedpress.weebly.com/. Bloody War is his first full length novel.

Bloody War is available in the following formats:

Select Binding

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