I didn’t get to read the original version of ‘The Binary Man’, so I had to make do with this re-edited 2013 version. It’s good to see the editor Kathryn Perkins getting star billing alongside the author as they normally go unrecognised (except by the author!) despite the work they put in. After reading this new version, I think she deserves some credit, as it’s a very good read. Of course, it would be nothing without the creative endeavours of the author himself and Jacob Prytherch has a good story to tell here.
The story concerns a Mr. Yannick Meyer who is something of a misfit. Despite finding it hard to hold down a regular job as an engineer, he’s driven to build a machine in his apartment where he lives alone. It might be his hobby or even his obsession but he has no real idea of what it is the machine is supposed to do. We also learn in the first few pages that his father died when Yannick was very young and his mother was taken in to care, leaving his grandparents to raise him. Living in a London blighted by rising sea levels, pollution and decay, Yannick makes his way to a 9am review meeting with his current employer, ParCorp. I don’t know if it’s a Monday but it’s certainly not Yannick’s day as he gets mugged and then loses his job when he finally gets to the meeting. This is just the start of Yannicks troubles.
It seems Yannick has the ability to change reality, to bring it into line with what he’s thinking or feeling. It’s not something our hero is aware of or of the physical cost to himself every time he does it. People like him are very, very rare and it’s not long before he comes to the attention of an Earth-based super-conglomerate ParCorp. It seems his old employer wants him back but, as usual, Yannick is completely unaware of this and needing a break he’s persuaded by an old friend to head off-world to make a new start. This brings him into contact with Kenyon Inc. which is an off-world conglomerate and the chief rival to ParCorp.
It’s harder to go into more detail without providing spoilers to the story, which is about Yannick discovering more about himself and corporate mal practice. The biggest criticism I have of the book is that it does not provide enough background or detail and is therefore to short. While the story is written with style we end up knowing virtually nothing about ParCorp and not too much more about Kenyon, although these are the driving forces behind the events that befall Yannick. True, we do get to meet Kenyon’s CEO, Jessica Clayton, towards the very end of the book but even this section leaves questions unanswered. The majority of the interactions within the book seem to occur with lower ranking staff and you are left to deduce what senior management were thinking when they ordered the actions they did.
I don’t want to end this review on a sour note as I actually enjoyed the read. While the idea of people who can influence reality is not a new one, it receives a new context in ’The Binary Man’. It’s a good SF read with a satisfactory ending that would have been improved overall by being longer, much longer. There are so many sub-plots that could and should have been explored. Still, I’m going to keep a watch for more work from Jacob Prytherch as I enjoyed his style of proper Science Fiction.
(pub: Jacob Prytherch. Kindle 296 pages ebook. Price: £1.99 ISBN: 978-1478175621 ASIN: B00857DL5G)
check out website: www.jakeprytherch.wix.com/main