Title: Grydscaen: Beginnings
Author: Natsuya Uesugi
Follow the lives of the main characters as they come together in the back story to grydscaen:retribution, the first volume of the grydscaen saga.
Faid is tired of life on the run in the Echelons, trying to keep his psychic power in check, he founds the Packrats establishing a safe haven for psychics. As a hacker he uses his jack to support his neurocyne habit.
Lino is recruited by the Psi Faction and is sent on a mission to kidnap Faid. Riuho, Lino’s half brother becomes a prisoner of the Elite military and they experiment on him, train him and subject him to mind control, then send him out on a mission.
On his return, Riuho is set on escaping and recruits Faid who hacks into the Psi Faction systems. They escape and return to the Packrats leading up to the start of grydscaen:retribution.
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Grydscaen: Beginnings, the first in the grydscaen series seemed to me like a rough, unpolished gem. I honestly expected gay science fiction with a serious touch of anime culture, and that’s exactly what I got. The world Natsuya Uesugi has created is extremely interesting, a dystopian society where psychic powers are the gold everyone’s after and would stop at nothing to hone those powers. In come the psi inducing drugs such as neurocyne. Hackers and psychics, high on drugs, and connected to the grydscaen through, you guessed it, a jack that goes straight into your brain, sounds manga-ish enough.
The factions are interesting to watch, the Packrats who are the it group to be in if you are in the wrong part of the city – the Echelons, the Psi Faction who to me was a bunch of seriously sociopath sadists hell bent on perfecting their human toys, those caught up in the middle, the hordes of prostitutes and drug addicts in search of their next hit, being hunted for their psi powers by the police and beaten up while trying to make a living. It all seems dark, bleak, and I can’t decide if any psi powers are anything but a curse.
While you try to keep up with the history of this new dark world, with the factions and their sometimes hard to grasp purposes, there is a plethora of characters being introduced. Many of the Packrats, with their subsections, from hackers to smugglers to kits with crazy and uncontrollable psi abilities that have no where to go, the Psi Faction with its many high ranking officials and the mass of gifted youngsters they have employed or kidnapped, and the complicated relationships between the players.
It is hard to tell who’s the main character and who’s in the supporting cast, and with as many individuals with back stories, the book seems rushed. if you take a break from reading it, you will have a bit of a rough time getting reacquainted with everyone and everything. Some aspects, like neurocyne, aegis, and psi powers are explained ad nauseam, while others are skipped through. You either guess them, or wait for a bit, when the explanation is later added, but that’s not a safe bet.
My rating for this book is mostly based on the intricacies of the world created and the raw potential of some of the characters in this universe. The book does need a clean up, but as it is only the introduction to the series, I do want to know more about the world and what happens to the characters. So far, I am mostly rooting for the Packrats. Although not perfect and clearly the criminal organization in this universe, they are the most human. All the Psi Faction seems to be doing is torture those with psi abilities, kidnap new test subjects. In their spare time, they help destroying the liabilities they created by a failed psi conditioning – the psi power users in the Echelons. The citizens in the city proper are even worse, highly homophobic and showing complete hate towards any form of psi power. As far as dystopian worlds go, this is as dark as it gets.
About the author
Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. With a Master’s Degree in International Management and a minor in Japanese, Natsuya has been around computers most of his life. He also studied animation and game design in art school, where he finalized the character designs and personalities for the main characters of grydscaen. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry. He would like to make a graphic novel of grydscaen someday.
Find out more about the author and the series – http://www.grydscaen.com/