RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    Our chief protagonist Wolram E Deaps, first seen in the sci-fi noir TOBACCO STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT, has passed away and now resides in the hereafter; a strange halfway home between life and death - a place where memories are relived in all their gore and glory.

    Accompanying him is a geisha, Kohana, having also passed away following an innings of 100 (or thereabouts). Despite the triple figure, Kohana resembles a teenager - one of many mysteries that enthralls Deaps. Initially there seems to be little to link these two vastly different characters, however as the story unfolds their lives become intertwined in more ways than one.

    I've not read a book like ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE before. It has no distinct genre, rather borrowing elements from many to form a literary tale that transports the reader through a sticky strange web of nostalgia ingrained in the lives and deaths of Deaps and Kohana.

    Rich with fact and equally engaging fiction, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE is an imaginative beast that is nothing short of all consuming.

    Author Andrez Bergen has got to be one of the most diverse authors I've read, each of his novels is unique and top shelf and ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE is no different. ~ OzNoir, Just A Guy That Likes 2 Read



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "From Goth coming-of-age to violently gothic, Andrez wanted his own style mixed with a bit of Edgar Allan Poe and he got the recipe spot on." ~ Ani Johnson, The Bookbag



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    Sixteen year old Mina lives in Nede (that's 'Needy' out loud), a suburb of the Australian state of Victoria where she's in the final throes of school. However she feels very much an outsider, especially after the recent death of her mother. Mina's alienated further by her bullying elder brother and her father's attempts to move on with his life before Mina is ready. She has friends that she spends time with in a disinterested Goth way, the friend who understands her most being Animeid. Animeid is even more different than Mina, being half-girl, half-bird, but neither of them seems to mind. It doesn't affect anyone else after all – Mina's the only person who can see her.

    Aussie born, Japan-adopted Andrez Bergen has a reputation for surprise and originality. This is only the second of his books that I've read but I'd say that reputation is founded on fact. In a single bound we've gone from murder among the super hero community in the comic fantasy noir 'Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?' to this, just as surreal but darker shocker. ('Shocker' in a good way!)

    From the beginning our hearts go out to Mina because, although she isn't someone we understand, we want to delve past all the pain and bereavement she's been through and try. (Whether she wants us to or not.) Her family (father Jim and brother Patrick) are periphery people whom we don't get to know that well as Mina won't let us. This is her story and she (along with Animeid) is the nucleus.

    Mina is someone I'm betting that most will react to strongly. Although fascinated by her, I grew to like her invisible friend more. Animeid has a great sense of irony coupled with an ability to sum up a situation in a sentence or even a word. Her ideas are a tad on the unconventional side but then so is she. Who is she? What is she? We're invited to form our own opinions around Andrez's cleverly arranged set pieces.

    Cleverly arranged? Oh definitely – Mr Bergen is a very intelligent author, much to our entertainment and delight. The cultural jokes that peppered Heropa before now give way to word play and some seemingly insignificant touches that come to mean so much.

    There are also references that draw us back to the 80s. Some (like Mina's love of Joy Division and New Order) will mean something to readers in both hemispheres. Whereas a couple (like references to Melbourne's fixed fun fair, Luna Park) encourage us to scuttle off to our favourite search engine. Having said that, we can all remember what it was to be young and we all knew a Mina on the edge of a school-aged social circle.

    The really devious thing is that, just when we feel we're coming to grips with Mina's world, we're thrown into violent mayhem and a jaw-dropping finale. Andrez may have left the laughs of Heropa behind but this dark, cynical volume isn't the sort of thing we read only once. Having got to the end I had to re-read just to pick up the clues that I'd missed. Indeed a masterly touch, Mr B! ~ Ani Johnson, The Bookbag



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' is rather different in style and tone from much of Andrez Bergen’s previous body of work. Even so, though, there’s a distinct flavor to it that, if you’re familiar with Bergen’s writing, is unmistakable. His influences and his passions always stand out, from elements of noir to classic films and comic books to music, and more. As I’ve remarked before, this tendency to wear his passions on his sleeve is part of what makes Bergen’s work so much fun to read.

    This particular novel is set in Australia in the 1980s. We follow Mina, a high school girl coming into her own amid an avalanche of problems all around her. Her mother died just a few short weeks before the story begins. Her brother beats and abuses her, and has since she was little. And, her father, while not a bad person per se, is distant and completely oblivious to her emotional state.

    Mina refuses to talk about any of the awful things going on in her life, and when confronted about them, she shrugs it off and pretends that they don’t bother her. Instead, to deal with these problems, she retreats into fantasy. Her outlet is a typewriter, with which she turns the people and events in her life into fantastical stories, ranging from sci-fi to adventure to (of course) noir. The action of the novel itself is frequently broken up by bits of these stories—several of which the keen observer may recognize, particularly if they’ve read the anthology Bergen published last year, 'The Condimental Op'.

    Writing can be a good and healthy way of dealing with emotional trauma; however, Mina also retreats into fantasy in another, somewhat darker way: a large, black-feathered bird-woman named Animeid, her sometime rescuer, sometime tormenter, who wreaks merry havoc in Mina’s life and is, of course, invisible to everyone but Mina.

    I found myself identifying with Mina rather more than I expected to, especially considering that I was never a teenage girl, nor did I grow up in Australia in the 1980s. But, certain events in her life parallel my own, and, in particular, her reactions to these events are rather more familiar than I’m comfortable with. In that way she’s identifiable, yes, but not always easy to like. That’s not a criticism, but merely an observation—Mina in fact doesn’t always like herself either. But, as she comes into her own, both she and we begin to like her and root for her more and more.

    This is not your typical coming-of-age story, though. It starts out that way, but eventually encompasses a variety of different styles and genres, from sci-fi to mystery, and more—even apart from the stories-within-a-story that we glimpse from Mina’s writings. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this one. It’s odd and unique, at times funny, at times poignant, but always compelling. If you’re looking for something outside the norm, you should definitely give this one a read.
    ~ Steven W. Alloway, Fanboy



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    What’s it about?:
    Andrez Bergen’s latest novel follows a sixteen year old misfit named Mina who currently is facing some major problems. Namely, that her mother just died, that her older brother physically and emotionally abuses her - not to mention all the school drama that regularly dogs a teenage girl’s life. Throw into the mix that she has an invisible, bird-like friend named Animeid and her life grows even more complicated. Despite this smorgasbord of emotional chaos Mina is more disturbed by her lack of feeling towards it all and she aims to find out why that is so. Set in Australia during 1986, and brimming with pop culture references to constantly remind us of its historical setting, this is a story about growing up and realising who it is you are and want to be. Also, it’s a murder mystery.

    Is it any good?:
    Kudos must be given to Bergen for skilfully depicting an actually believable teenage girl on page; Mina’s mannerisms, her speech, her dynamic with her friends are all spot on and highlight the writer’s ability to really get inside the minds of his characters. The plot itself blurs the line between the sci-fi/fantasy and Bildungsroman genres for the most part successfully, but there’s an abrupt tonal shift about halfway through the novel that takes the reader in a whole other different direction and it is definitely a bit jarring. Characters who you thought you had sussed out reveal themselves to be vastly (even horrifyingly) different. Once one can overcome the initial shock, however, the second half of the story turns out to be just as intriguing as the first. Fans of Bergen’s previous work will no doubt be used this anyhow. What saves the novel’s structure from complete collapse under the weight of all its elements is Mina, whose narration is sharp, likeable, and keeps the reader at an even pace. There’s a lot going on in this novel (though what would one expect with a title that long), and at times it can feel a bit overstuffed, but Bergen always manages to keep his head above water; everything has its purpose and everything has its place. It’s a slow burner but the reader is rewarded with a great pay off after so much build up.

    In 2 words:
    Read it. ~ , ComicBuzz



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "Just finished 'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' by Andrez Bergen. Great, wild, heartfelt, heartbreaking, wonderful novel. Endlessly creative." ~ Josh Stallings, Author, 'Beautiful, Naked & Dead'



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    Truly a one-of-a-kind novel like Andez Bergen himself only knows how to write them. It's such a peculiar experience, I had to stop about 10% into it and go read reviews to double check if I was understanding properly. Bergen's staccato delivery is surprising and difficult to adapt to. Although it features character of TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT Wolram Deaps, it's not a sequel per se. It has very little narrative ties, explores its own themes and has its own identity altogether.

    Speaking of exploration, it's pretty much what ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE is: an exploration of several narrative and non-narrative themes by Andrez Bergen. Deaps and a geisha named Kohana are talking a tour of her memories, who is only vaguely interrelated to his. Inside the fourth wall, it's an exploration of the chaotic series of events that is the life of a human being and outside of it, it's a tour through 20th century Japan with a mischievous guest and a witty hostess.

    It's also a beautiful testimony that from whatever perspective you want to see it, the sacred is deeply human. Very good novel. ~ Benoît Lelièvre, Dead End Follies



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    Weird as shit. But oddly intriguing and strangely hard to put down. If you're looking for something out of left field, this book comes recommended from thefoundingfields.com. 5/5. ~ David Ploss, The Founding Fields



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    I don't quite know where to start with Bergen's new novel.

    Problem is I am a bit biased as it takes place in an era I didn't know I loved as much as I did and with mention of music I still love. So I think I would have loved to hear Andrez just reminisce.

    However the narrative in Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is typically superb. In fact I think new to Andrez (or maybe I've not noticed before) but he has an almost Craig Wallwork ability to write nothing and have it interesting. In this case the contrary discussions of teen girls and their 'bangs' yet, DCIPG has a dark river running through it, of a father fucking away his grief and his conquests remaining in the morning like a toilet stink, a torturous older brother who like his father has a drinking problem.

    We follow Mina, an accidentally alternative girl who escapes through writing, the creativity manifests itself as Anim, a dark influence that is the clear window on Mina's ever fractured existence. Without spoilers, there are simply wonderful elements of tension such as one via a drunken friend of her brother that leaves you holding your breath.

    What I did find wonderful was how Andrez wove escapism and an alternative fantasy with a voyeuristic narrative that just works and somehow makes the experience all the more intimate.

    I love the fusion feel of this book. I love how it proudly cross pollinates comic style blunt with coming of age literature, so much is great about DCIPG. I think I might fancy Anim too!! ~ Jonny Gibbings, Author of Malice in Blunderland



  • Wanderer, The
    Timothy J. Jarvis
    If you love good old-fashioned weird stories or if you've ever considered yourself to be a fan of weird fiction, you must read 'The Wanderer'. This novel is essential reading material for fans of the weirder side of speculative fiction, because it's an exceptionally good and well written novel. A few excellent weird fiction short story collections have been published this year, but 'The Wanderer' is without a doubt the best weird fiction debut novel of the year, so readers of weird fiction should put it immediately to their reading list. 'The Wanderer' is an ambitious, gorgeously weird, beautifully written and stunningly original novel. In other words, it's weird fiction as it shoud be. It's a literary masterpiece that beckons readers to re-read it and enjoy its strange atmosphere time and time again. 'The Wanderer' is yet an undiscovered gem, but I'm sure that it will be found and loved by many readers. Highly recommended! ~ Risingshadow.net, http://www.risingshadow.net/articles/371-a-review-of-timothy-j-jarvis-the-wanderer



  • Bald New World
    Peter Tieryas Liu
    "A recommended read for fans of Blade Runner and Quentin Tarantino, or anyone looking for an original, incisive piece of science fiction." ~ Arielle Yarwood, Masters Review



  • Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?
    Andrez Bergen
    Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? by Andrez Bergen is a fiction novel about a huge, fake city, populated with heroes and normal people (referred to as Blandos). Led by newcomer Southern Cross (a man's answer to the lack of superheroes in Australia), the Equalizers are set to find out who, exactly, is killing the great capes of Heropa.

    Heropa is a part of an artificial reality, a sort of MMORPG (massive-multiplayer online roleplaying game), where anyone looking to escape their actual reality, can log on and assume the role of a superhero. Southern Cross is actually a man named Jack, orphaned and starving, at 15 he comes across a man advertising Heropa and a better life. Once Jack logs-on as Southern Cross, he realizes that things aren't quite what they used to be, and that someone is murdering the characters. The problem being, that they're probably dying in real life too. The Blandos have no idea what's going on, and the largest villain group in Heropa are in the dark as well.

    Heropa?, is essentially an homage to comic books, merged with a detective noir, and somehow it manages to be those things without being... serious. There's obviously death and violence, but it's humorous deaths. The names and likenesses of the heroes and villains are pretty ridiculous (as an MMORPG sometimes is), but at the same time, it's not so far-fetched you can't believe in it.

    While the beginning of the novel was a bit difficult to get through, partly because of the dialogue, once I got through the first chapter I was able to really dig into it. The pacing picked up and the actual story started. There were times throughout the novel where I didn't quite “get” the language used, or the humor, but it wasn't so much that it ruined or took me out of the story. And, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of comic books, especially the golden age to which this novel is paying tribute, so I can't really comment on that front.

    But, I did very much enjoy it. I thought the world building was great, and as an avid gamer, I appreciate that aspect. There's romance, as there usually is, and most of the time it's hit or miss for me in that department. I usually think that sort of thing is rushed – and a lot unnecessary in some instances – but I think the way the author set this one up was interesting. In the universe, the “Blandos” are actually NPC characters. Their memory banks are usually wiped clean so that there isn't anything held over for the next game. Essentially they are given what is called in roleplay a new life rule. Everything starts over from scratch. But there was a glitch in the system somewhere, so Jack (Southern Cross) and his love interest were able to develop, as she did not forget or act as an NPC would. It's definitely a new and different way to develop romance.

    I give this a 3 out of 4. Definitely enjoyed it. ~ , OnlineBookClub.org



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    Well it’s certainly an eye-catching title, but it doesn’t give a lot away, so I really didn’t know what to expect from the book.
    Trouble is, having read it, I’m still not entirely sure what I got. It’s been a long time since I read a book that left me with such divided feelings.

    Mina Rapace is a troubled seventeen year old growing up in Melbourne (renamed Nede in the book for some reason), in the mid 1980s. Her mother has recently died and her brother has been physically abusing her for years. Her friends are a caricature of the bitchy teen girls beloved of US dramas. And to cap it all, she has an imaginary friend, a bird-girl called Animeid, yes, read that backwards…

    Now if I’d just read the above before being given the book I’d have handed it straight back! Not my type of book at all. But, to be fair I’d be doing it an injustice. There's a lot to like about Planet Goth. Mina is an interesting character, yes she’s troubled, but who wouldn’t be in her position? One of her ways of dealing with the situation is to write fiction. The story is peppered with excerpts from her latest stories, all of which seem destined to remain unfinished. They are however quite entertaining and give an insight into her state of mind and need for escape.

    Mina’s home and school life are slowly disintegrating when she befriends Angelika, a new girl at her school. Through her new friend she is introduced to the local Goth scene. This, for me, is the best part of the book. I’m sure lots of us would recognise Mina’s feelings of wonder and joy as she makes new friends and discovers a whole new world of music and fashion.

    The story [then] picks up again and morphs into a murder mystery. This isn’t as strange or abrupt as it sounds, the groundwork for it having been covered earlier in the book.

    Mina, however, is a fascinating and quirky character. It would be unfair to call her disturbed, different would be a better description. Much of the book focuses on her internal monologue and this is well written and always entertaining. ~ , The Cult Den



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "A fascinating and quirky character... There's a lot to like about Planet Goth." ~ , The Cult Den



  • 100 Years of Vicissitude
    Andrez Bergen
    "Weird as shit. But oddly intriguing and strangely hard to put down. If you're looking for something out of left field, this book comes recommended." ~ David Ploss, The Founding Fields



  • Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?
    Andrez Bergen
    Andrez Bergen’s Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? is not just a love letter to comics throughout the ages, but one of the most entertaining books about comic heroes ever written.

    There are so many comic references spread throughout the book, I found myself looking them up constantly. Fortunately, even readers without any background in comics can enjoy the central plot: a group of heroes and villains inhabit Heropa, a digital, Matrixesque space that people use to escape a destitute future in Melbourne as the rest of the world has been devastated. Heroes and villains exist, but they have a “gentlemen’s agreement” that no matter how destructive their battles become, no one dies. Matters take on a Watchmen-like twist when someone starts killing off the “capes” and Jack, the “Southern Cross,” and his team of heroes have to find the culprit. Matching its comic book setting, the dialogue is pithy, animated, and picturesque. The banter between the superheroes and even the rogues is a highlight as their interplay is both self-conscious of their legacy while weaving their own identity:

    “Yeah, well. I guess once Captain America hit the big time, copycat patriotic heroes became abundant,” Jack said.

    “Pot-kettle-black.”

    “Whatever. But your costume’s slightly different from the one in the picture.”

    “The good Captain had a few wardrobe switches over the years, depending on the artist. This was my favourite.”

    Gypsie-Annie glanced at her boss. “You didn’t have the imagination to conjure up your own?”

    “I was a hero, not a haberdasher.”

    Rather than chapters, we have issue numbers, starting with #100, implying we’ve missed the first ninety-nine issues and a rich backstory. Like the newcomer hero, Jack, we find out about the world as he finds it out. I’m hesitant to say it reminds me of videogames as that connotes something simplistic, which Capes is not. At the same time, games have taken so many leaps in their narrative story-telling that I’d say fans of the best of gaming would love the fast-paced nature with multiple story-lines and stream of twists that leave you guessing until the very end. Illustrations from fantastic artists help bring the world to life in stark black-and-white. The styles range from a Manga-styled Amazonian heroine to shots of the Southern Cross arrayed in dramatic splash page fashion. It’s a perfect complement to the vivid prose that captures the tone of old serials and seedy noir novels as in one of the first views of the city:

    “Canvas awnings billowing in its doorways, a shiny, green, wood-panelled W-Class tram clattered past before they crossed a thoroughfare on which 1930s and ‘40s Packards, Buicks, Morris Minors, even a two-tone tan and chocolate-brown Summit Tourer from the 1920s, moved slowly. These vintage jalopies honked one another while a traffic cop in jodhpurs, knee-high riding boots and white gloves, standing with rod-straight posture at the next intersection, used his whistle and energetic arm movements to control the flow.”

    Time and again, I found myself fascinated by the little details that act as gutters to border the universe: “You have Equalizer logos on your toilet paper,” is noted, as are the travails imposed by Jack’s mask which “was a tight, full-face hood with holes only for the eyes.” The book happens to have one of the most extensive and thorough Author Acknowledgements I’ve read detailing many of Bergen’s influences and inspirations, as well as Comic Highlights and a Glossary in case you’re wondering who figures like Buster Crabbe and the Great Gazoo are.

    There’re debates about everything within the story which reflects Bergen’s passion for not just comics and pop culture, but the quirks of an artificial world and the ramifications for those who hide within. The “Hero’s Journey” takes on new meaning with digital shackles, where even love is wiped away as easily as the memories of the citizens within. Ontological inquiries, though, aren’t as important as the sociological and psychological dilemmas of creators versus created. As superheroes have secret identities, Heropa can be read on many different layers and when each is stripped away, the question of “who” isn’t as important as the fun-packed journey getting there.

    In Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, Bergen creates a world we care about.

    The comic references and gaming form a backdrop, but it’s the individual heroes and villains we root for and against. The original word for Manga means “whimsical drawings.” It was only when those random drawings coalesced into narratives reflecting our own lives and times that they resonated so deeply with audiences. Bergen reminds us that superpowers aren’t just about performing physical impossibilities, but also encompass our capacity to inquire, evolve, and remember. We are all wearing capes in digital worlds we construct. But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret that others can find out only after they wander the streets of Heropa. ~ Peter Tieryas Liu, Entropy



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    'Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth' is a dark and angsty roller coaster ride set to a wickedly awesome goth rock soundtrack.

    In the center of it all is Mina, an anything but typical teenager. Long time sufferer of mental and physical abuse at the hands of her brother, daughter to a dead mother and somewhat clueless father, shy and self-conscious Mina struggles to find her place among the rest of her school mates. Sure, she's part of an inner circle of friends, but she often finds herself on the outer edges of the group, peeking in from beneath her fringe bangs, feeling the most alone when in the presence of others. At home, when she's not being roughed up, she locks herself away in her room composing short stories, rocking out to the darker classic alt bands of the eighties, and hanging with her feathered friend Animeid, a girl she looks to as protector and confidant, a girl who is a complete and utter figment of her imagination.

    Mina does a pretty good job of playing normal and seems to be keeping her crazy in check - acting out in all the usual teenage ways: dying her hair, plastering on the goth greasepaint, getting drunk in the clubs, falling for strange older boys, and getting dumped by one group of friends only to find herself caught up in the swish and sway of another.

    But the crazy can only be quieted for so long before we find ourselves staring over the edge of the rabbit hole with Mina, slugging back Elysium in the hopes of returning to a relatively normal life and instead, finding ourselves tugged down inside its black, gaping maw, directly into Bergen's capable and waiting hands.

    Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is a book that avoids genre. It's a melting pot of science fiction, murder mystery, and coming of age YA, whipped to a froth and blended beyond recognition. While it's not for everyone... it's a reading experience that the braver fans of unconventional literature will not want to miss.

    Think cult classic film 'Heathers' with a healthy heap of 'Alice in Wonderland', and you've got the idea. ~ Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "A trippy little book about teenage rage and righteousness. Think cult classic film 'Heathers' with a healthy heap of 'Alice in Wonderland', and you've got the idea." ~ Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    I have to say that this book definitely did jump out at me from the pack. I read the sample on Amazon and whacked the upcoming paperback on my Amazon Wish List. Love the cover art, by the way! ~ , Little Gothic Horrors



  • Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth
    Andrez Bergen
    "I have to say that this book definitely did jump out at me from the pack. I read the sample on Amazon and whacked the upcoming paperback on my Amazon Wish List. Love the cover art, by the way!" ~ , Little Gothic Horrors