Off the Shelf

“Elizabeth Must Die”

By Marcus Pan

Elizabeth Must DieJust having finished a long-reading biography of a guy I never heard of who walked around Europe in a time I’ve never lived, I was up for returning to the sci-fi realm once again. I’ve read nothing but short stories, Nostradamus texts and interpretations and the aforementioned biography for some time. It’s time to drop into a bit of fantasy la la land and cruise around a bit. from Harper Collins Publishing.

Hence…Elizabeth Must Die. Written by new author Jeremy Needle, Elizabeth Must Die is a hacker drama – surreal, seemingly incomplete but somehow finished, jumpy and bouncy around a mixed up timeline. Who’s Elizabeth and why does she have to kick the proverbial bucket? I read this book through in a single sitting – it moves that smoothly – and I come out the other side not being quite sure. “Elizabeth Must Die” found scrawled on a floppy disk filled with images of bad dental work or lack thereof is…weird.

Thade and Guy are late-life teenagers just trying to get around in America Inc. In old school Porky’s fashion, one chases after pussy while the other chases after drugs and suddenly they find themselves suspended knee deep in a harrowing round of corporate (seemingly at first, anyway) espionage and snuff entertainment. Jumping back and forth with the duo becomes tedious and hard to follow, but if you pay attention you’re awarded with some decent craft to spend an afternoon.

Top notch dialogues come from Needle’s pen, especially in therapy sessions where therapist and psycho play cat and mouse word games with each other, snapping politely yet cattily at the heels of each breathed syllable. Very true to life dialogue between Thade and Guy also keep the book flowing smoothly, and some of us might even remember talking similar trash with old friends in between bouts of dropped tabs and dusty inhalants.

The plotline of the book as the duo break into a corporate office space on Guy’s hunt for esteemed dream-pussy finds the office trashed with naught interesting to be found save a floppy disk with strange words written on it and even stranger pictures saved in it. In an effort to find out just what’s going on, a bit of social engineering gets Guy hired as a network specialist following the companies “vandalism” where the continuing search for information on the job leads them both into an ending that is, while interesting, fuck-all confusing. Part of the reason for this is that while Jeremy spends a lot of time building the Thade and Guy characters, the others are left a little one sided and therefore not nearly as memorable. By the ending, who’s who requires rereading sections of the book just to make sure you know who is in the video, who is feeding bits of information, etc.

The timeline jumps are documented well, but happen so quickly and swiftly that you’re disoriented sometimes and find yourself once again flipping a page or two back to double check the chapter’s date. The layout of the book however is damn fine, and the editing is superb. 3l33t terms abound, sometimes so thickly stacked that most non-geeks would have trouble getting through it. ICQ conversations are spilled into the pages just to keep it funky and font switches and inline black and whites keep the book interesting as hell no matter how lost you get.

The end result is definitely worth a go through. This is one I’m going to sit on for a bit and then reread – it’s one of those stories that will probably make more sense the more you read it as you pick up on missed pieces of the surrealism. Elizabeth Must Die is a good start for a new author like Jeremy Needle and a worthy addition to a genre of fiction that is banefully lacking in quality material. If you’re into Burroughs, Hakim Bey, Kathy Acker, or a little bit of Neal Stephenson…you’ll dig Jeremy Needle’s Elizabeth Must Die. Hold onto it for multiple read throughs – it’s a fast book to get into and swing (I did it in a few hours in one sitting) – to pick up pieces that you might have missed on the initial foray.

““Elizabeth Must Die” by Jeremy Needle
Copyright © 2003 by Jeremy Needle
Published by Six Gallery Press
ISBN: 0-9726301-2-0

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