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Full Review
book cover
by Floyd Davis
Psychedelia Australis Publishing 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by K. Trout, 5/30/2010

In his first novel, Australian Floyd Davis takes readers on a wild joyride through the soft underbelly of a control-oriented future society and the various factions of resistance that have rejected it. Davis populates his world with a cast of fascinating characters mirroring the personalities of many of those who today form both sides of the picture.

Conspiritor proved to be one of those rare books that this reviewer was unable to set down until finished. It was inhaled nearly as readily and rapidly as its central characters burned dope. I say nearly, as I seemingly can’t read quite as fast as the bud was being burned in the tale. Rarely did an event occur for the central characters unaccompanied by the smoking of sweet herb.

Scarcely pausing for a breath (except perhaps to inhale), Davis guides readers through a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is governed by a central computer intelligence, pretending to solve mankind’s problems via implanted computer technology permitting it to directly communication with citizens.

Despite the computer interface being presented as the perfect solution to the problems of the human race, it soon finds itself undercut due to hardware failures of the very technology promoted as salvation. (Leading to a need for fresh blood; with the outcasts being deemed the appropriate pool to harvest it from, of course).

These deliberate fringe elements are as disparate as revolutionary: techno-warriors with death wishes and exceptional luck, indoor and outdoor guerilla Cannabis cultivators, barefoot witches creating an idyllic utopian society protected by the minds of children, magicians drinking psychedelic brews to do battle in the astral realms, and drunken Mad-Maxioid junk collectors.

We are treated to a fast-paced tour through the various worlds of these misfits, tax-dodgers, and outcasts-by-choice, living beyond the edges of the civilized world. This intriguing set of characters finds themselves drawn together only by the crisis threatening their existence. The need for unity is compounded by the familiar problem of the most suitable leaders rarely being the same ones who are the first to actually want the job. While peppered with moralistic lessons and observations, Davis keeps them running as a current beneath the action-packed surface, stimulating thought while not leaving the reader feeling preached at.

A few readers may find themselves discovering their inner cynic when encountering Davis’ solution for the world’s problems as being (simply put), “All we need is more love” and “A real solution involves everyone,” but there is much to reflect on in his treatment of the resolution to the conflicts running through the rest of the book.

The only complaint I have about this book was feeling that a few more pages would have been a welcome addition. There were spots toward the end that I found myself wishing that events had been described in greater detail, or that some of the transition in the complex chain of events had been explained better. On occasion I was left scratching my head, wondering how the story jumped from one point to the next, or puzzling over the occasionally inexplicable motivations of the normally solid characters. But this was only a minor distraction.

Most fascinating was the central premise that the only viable outcome is one where those involved on all sides of the conflict need to be winning participants in the resolution of the human drama into which we are seemingly hurtling headlong. Conspiritor proved to be a greatly entertaining piece of thought-provoking escapist fiction, and I look forward to seeing more works from Davis’ pen.

Originally Published In : in the Summer Solstice 2002 issue of The Entheogen Review

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