Brigham Plaza

2020

Brigham Plaza

Most hackers think they’re going to live forever; Johnny San Vito isn’t so optimistic. While snooping around a protected construct in Vinestead International’s virtual reality network, he starts to get the feeling this might be his final visit to cyberspace. To preserve his data and leave a trail for his friends, he manages to prime a Dead Man’s Loop just in time for the network to come crashing down around him.

When the data reaches celebrity hacker Danny “Guns” Montreal and cipher den suit Megan “Tanzy” Riley, it points them to Johnny’s final resting place in virtuality—a seemingly unremarkable strip mall called Brigham Plaza. Getting there will be difficult, and leaving with their lives will be tougher still, but what they find there will rewrite history… and alter the course of humanity’s future.

In the aftermath of Perion City, long after the fall of the Net, the pivotal battle in the war against Vinestead will be fought and decided on the cracked sidewalks of Brigham Plaza.

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Science Fiction | 351 pages | ISBN: 979-8618450928 | 2020-09-01

META

FEATURING
  • Cynthia Mesquina (Freelance)
  • Danny Guns Montreal (Reinhardt Triumvirate)
  • Gordon "G" King (Unaffiliated)
  • Jane Meade (Adelai Associates)
  • Johnny San Vito (Reinhardt Triumvirate)
  • Julius "Jape" Parker (Vinestead International)
  • Kaili Zabora (Calle Cinco)
  • Megan (I.C.E-1)

REVIEWS

Nelson Kerr
2020-09-13
Sci-fi/Cyberpunk done right . . .
If you liked William Gibson's "Neuromancer" or Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One", you'll find a new rush in Verastiqui's "Brigham Plaza".

This is the latest book in Verastiqui's Vinestead Universe and it doesn't disappoint. If you've not read the earlier books you'll still thoroughly enjoy the read, but those who know the characters are in for a real treat; many of your favorites have returned to reprise their roles in this rollicking tale. Verastiqui sets the stage well in the first few pages of the book and ramps up the intensity all the way through, providing a well-paced story full of nuance and flavor for any reader, whether cyberpunk aficionado or sci-fi mystery fan (ala Asimov's Robot Series). Much in the same way that "Ready Player One" presented a new take on classic cyberpunk, Verastiqui has the ability to make accessible to the reader a fully formed future with all the trappings that make the genre so compelling. With the rise and mainstreaming of VR technology in our own society, Verastiqui presents a compelling future with well thought out social and technological advancements. These serve as the underpinnings to a much more universal story of murder and revenge.

While this book definitely leaves open the possibility for a sequel that could follow some of the partially resolved storylines, I see that more as a tease of what's to come from this rising star and not something that in any way detracts from the resolution of the main story being presented here. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to continuing to explore Verastiqui's world, which is becoming more and more believable as the pace of modern technology begins to make strides towards making these stories more fiction and less science fiction.

I can't wait to see where he'll take us next . . .
Scott Graber
2020-09-01
If you’re a fan of Verastiqui’s previous works then you absolutely won’t be disappointed, yet new readers will still find it exciting and cyberpunk-ily fresh.

The interweaving non-linear story line, R-rated risqué rowdiness (although much more toned down in this book), dialogue bouncing between clever and snarky, and futuristic technology hybridized with 90s nostalgia (e.g. a Blockbuster Video on one page to a virtual reality orgy on the next) - all make for an emotionally riveting read.

Who killed infamous hacker Johnny San Vito and why? Who is really pulling the strings, who is next, and how deep does the rabbit hole go? We follow a group of fellow hackers - one with a past he’d like to forget (a callback to Verastiqui’s previous books), one chasing notoriety with selfishness disguised as selflessness, one who will stop at nothing to enact revenge for his fallen friend, and one who may or may not be trapped in their own personal hell.

Heists, fights, fists. Philosophy of consciousness, questionable morals, and pure evilness. Imaginative and visceral, the comeuppance and resolution of the characters are shocking and surreal. Verastiqui knows how to craftily build suspense, knows how to end each chapter leaving you wanting more, and it gets better with every book - this one being the acme of his achievement in this regard.
Megan Allen
2020-09-01
Ready to plug in!
Just finished this book and initial impressions follow:

It's hackers vs the man. Some throw back to early internet days. Fun book, lots of action and some pretty cool ideas about the possibilities of humans, machines, and virtual reality.

Things I liked: biochips and the ability to regulate our brain and body responses, the blurring of lines between reality & virtual reality , man & machine, sane & insane- what is real, anyway?, visiting characters from previous books, seeing them interact with each other, and getting a deeper look into some of them, overall a good read, I'd recommend.

Things I liked less: I'd like to know more of how the world is functioning- the lines between a dystopian world and fully functioning, technology advanced world are kinda thin and could use some defining, the ending was felt more like set up for another book (which is cool, but), - I have questions and am unsure if I'm feeling a lack of completion for this story or just a general left-hanging, waiting for more story feeling. I feel like the characters were finally doing some good growth/evolving at the end and I really hope the next book picks up there and shows us the fruit of all that growth.

Definitely you can see how much the author has evolved over the course of his several books- I'm looking forward to the next installment.

I received a free, advanced copy of this book. But I also bought on kindle for the future reread! Print copy text was smaller than I would have liked.
Jay Roy
2020-09-01
A very fitting middle chapter of the Vinestead Anthology

I thought Brigham was Verastiqui's best paced book thus far and I felt that the action from chapter-to-chapter made me want to ignore the rest of the world and keep reading. Story progression held plenty of turns to keep the reader guessing, especially when combined with the knowledge from the rest of the series.

As a fan of the genre, there was enough tech to keep my cyber-nerd satiated while leaving enough room for the characters.

Brigham rounds out the series very nicely, tying up some loose ends while providing an origin for others. I look forward to what is next for Verastiqui.
Caitlin S.
2020-09-01
Exciting page turner
This book is full of action and adventure. It was fun to be transported from my current quarantine reality to a futuristic reality with limitless VR. There was never a dull moment with these characters and it reads like a sci-fi thriller movie. It’s definitely a page turner. Thoroughly enjoyed the tech applications in the future.

Dislikes would be the ending. I wanted more of a conclusion but I’m guessing there will be a follow on.
Curtis VanDerwerken
2020-09-01
Another Epic Journey
Daniel did it again... another dive back into the dystopian universe that he created and it is a hit. Daniel's character development and his unique writing style has produced a compelling storyline filled with just enough twists and turns to keep you glued to the book.

If you are a veteran to his stories, you will immediately fall back into the universe like you never left. If you are new to this anthology, don't worry... this book works well enough to be a standalone; but will make you want to go back and read the others to gain a deeper understanding of the characters motivations.

On a deeper note, we need to keep stories coming from Daniel. He had a character brutally killed off in his previous entry Hybrid Mechanics with the name of Curtis (which I found personally offensive) and I need Daniel to keep going long enough so that the collective consciousness of Curtis can be brought back by Perion to enact his vengeance!!!
Caleb Wyatt
2020-09-01
Loved it!
This is the third book in the Vinestead Anthology that I have read and I enjoyed every bit of it.

I am a fan of the somewhat dystopian world that Daniel has created. Everything is both comfortably familiar and fantastic at the same time. New and old technological ideas are blended together in an interesting way that doesn't devolve into mind-numbing techno-babel nonsense.

I have always liked stories that are told through the eyes of a number of different characters. It allows the story to unfold without forcing a specific perspective on what is happening. Daniel creates slick characters that are fun to get to know or, if you already know them from previous books, are like old friends that you get to hang out with again.

This book, like the other Vinestead Anthology books, can be read and enjoyed independently of the rest although there are some events and relationships that you will not be aware of quite as early on if you read this book first. Daniel makes sure to include enough relevant details to keep all readers, old and new alike, feeling like they understand what is going on and why characters are behaving as they do.

Brigham Plaza follows a number of different characters through the story. I personally enjoy seeing the events that unfold from the many sometimes wildly differing perspectives.

The ending of the books very much feels like a cliff hanger for another book. I take this as a huge positive because it means there will be more books on the way!

Bottom line is that I would absolutely recommend reading Brigham Plaza.
David Dorsey
2020-08-31
Entertaining and Engaging
This was my favorite book so far. I think it helped that I had read Perion Synthetics already. Many of the same characters were in that book. The new characters that were introduced to me were interesting and fleshed out. I did struggle with the concept of the celebrity hacker bit, but I chalk it up to that the Vinestead universe is not our own.

My favorite thing about this book, and the others that I've read by Daniel, is how they end. It's not just a simple heroes win the day ending. They always feel like the end the right way. I wasn't expecting a simple ending for this book, but the ending that took place took me by surprise and I really enjoyed.
Carl Gillingham
2020-08-30
It’s time to return to Daniel’s world
I was lucky enough to receive a free, advance copy of this book from the author.

Daniel writes within the genres of sci-fi, cyberpunk, and dystopian fiction so, on one hand, this is my home. As a lover of both Blade Runners, Mad Max, The Matrix, I have at least one foot planted firmly in this camp. But look on my bookshelves, and you’ll see nothing like that. I watch sci-fi - I watch a lot of it - but I don’t really read it. And, although he didn’t change my view that traditional sci-fi is not necessarily for me, Daniel most certainly writes a rollicking ride through our inevitable disastrous future.

This might seem counter-intuitive in a book review, but I have no interest in reviews that spend half their length just trotting out the basic plot points of the story. There’s a description on the back of the book. Read that. There are synthetic humans, hackers, electronic drugs, advanced weaponry, conspiracies, mysteries, and death. There’s action, nudity, and the chapters are pleasantly short. I always appreciate that in a book.

This is sci-fi the William Gibson way. Daniel has absorbed the rules and expectations of the genre expertly and works with them apparently effortlessly on his own pages. He is, I think, a very Gibsonian writer. Brigham Plaza is not his first novel in the world he created and it shows; as I read, I felt like he was giving me exactly what was in his head. He can see every detail, every object, surface, gesture, and facial expression. He has that all very definitely in his imagination (or sketched like a crazy person on a series of Post-Its, who knows?) and his book feels in parts like a VR adventure in that he gives this fully formed world to us.

Brigham Plaza is a stand-alone story - no knowledge of what comes before is necessary, and I think for the most part that’s true. If I did at times feel a little lost with who is who and why they’re doing what they’re doing, this is no doubt at least partly due to my oncoming decrepitude. For future releases, maybe a "Previously on…" section at the start would help us slow-on-the-uptake latecomers. Or character bios. Something for us hard-of-remembering readers.

For me, the pleasure of Brigham Plaza is in finding the through-line of adventure that I caught hold of and allowed it to drag me along. I saw my version of the story in my head - I started to imagine the screenplay. It was quite a ride. Like all good sci-fi stories, there’s at heart here an adventure - with just enough noir mystery to keep us wanting to know more; just enough tech-supported almost-superhero action to speed the heart up; and characters with lives, ideas, and thoughts of their own to keep us involved. And if you want world-building, tech-talk, and naked people kissing, they’re all there too.

Daniel obviously loves the world he’s made for us, and he works damn hard to show it to us. Spending a few hours in his head is most definitely worth it. I’m hoping he’s willing to work with a partner on the screenplay. I think we could really have something here…
Heidi Click
2020-08-30
A Beautiful Landscape. Well Made Characters. But I struggled a bit in engaging with the plot.
I received Brigham Plaza to read in advance of its release from Mr. Verastiqui. I was excited to be able to review a book again. It’s been two years since I’ve read a new novel from cover to cover and longer still since I’ve reviewed a piece of fiction comprehensively. So, I was thrilled and also intimidated to write a review for a new story. So let’s begin.

The characters are well built, as I was able to both like and dislike certain ones and appreciate their construction and their use. They are fully fleshed out, from their desires and conflicts to their histories and surprise connections to each other and to the events of the world. Some character arcs are closed well, while others could have used more work or more “screen time.” This could have prevented the suddenness for some action choices and ease the whiplash of the arc’s climax. I appreciated, however, that each character, whether major or trivial, had agency. But, I found myself enjoying the characters who weren’t listed on the cover or had Point of View Chapters more than those who were supposed to lead the plot. One of the main characters eventually warmed up to me by the end, but it took a little too long for that to happen in order for me to say, “Yeah…that’s my favorite character!!”

What was done exceedingly well was the world building. The universe of Brigham Plaza is completely probable and the scars of its history are seen in the society created. I could live there and know the rules, as well as know the loopholes I could exploit. The visual language is very comprehensible and shows the author’s work in that regard. I can picture Danny’s cabin and Lincoln’s tower, as well as the various interfaces into the virtual world. The fight sequences are brutal but visual and I can hear every punch and gunshot. This is the best part of the novel, it’s a beautifully constructed world.

The problem I had is with plot cohesion. Perhaps it’s because there really isn’t a protagonist or primary antagonist. I think this is why I had such a hard time connecting to any of the main characters, until finally landing on one. The plot for three of the four threads suddenly veered away from what was introduced as the main conflict and mystery to solve.

Because of this, I struggled with the pacing and felt that the first third of the book was slow. Three quarters of the plot had to make up time in setting up and chasing another conflict. It disconnected me from the majority of the cast. And I really enjoyed entering the world with these characters, but I wish their journey was bonded and that they had an actual face to fight because I really wanted to see something epic in this beautiful landscape.

By no means is this the worst book I’ve read since moving to my current city fifteen years ago. Perhaps it’s the format and the use of Point of View Chapters and perhaps it’s the lack of a protagonist, which I’m very used to having in the world of manga, or having a face for the evil they were fighting. This world was beautiful and its characters were real. If I’m completely honest, this isn’t my favorite book that I’ve read in recent years, but I do recommend you pick up a copy and read for yourself.
Jared Harper
2020-08-28
Never dull, always one step ahead of the reader
This is the sixth book in the Vinestead Anthology, and the fourth book in the series I've read.

Brigham Plaza is like a campy Neuromancer, a bit more pulp and a bit less serious.

The cyberpunk world in the series is wild and vivid. The timeline has traditionally mapped to the real world, but the divergent path of the Vinestead universe raises a lot of interesting questions.

In this book we're introduced to some new characters, as well as a few returning characters. Danny and Tanzy investigate the suspicious death of their long-estranged friend. We also see the return of Kaili Zabora, whose story continues in a truly unexpected fashion. Lincoln Continental himself makes an appearance as a character in the story. And of course the evil sack of crap that is Arthur Sedivy.

If you like science fiction and want to support an independent author, this is a great book to read. You don't need to know anything about the Vinestead universe, but I bet it'll make you want to read others in the anthology.
Lee Moody
2020-08-28
Addictive cyberpunk for people who don’t read much cyberpunk
I could not put this down which is pretty high praise from me as I'm usually not a cyberpunk or science fiction person. I usually look for more "literary" or "real world" novels but this has realism in a dystopian world where a lot of people get elective surgery to be part robot and and people are micro-chipped with some very interesting technology.

This is a book in a series so you might get more out of it if you've read the preceding novels, but it works fine as a stand-alone. Since the first book in this series in 2007, unfortunately the dark reality of this world has become more relevant, but it makes for a fun as hell read. The world-building is about evil corporations and life-altering technology, but at its core, it's really about the characters.

This novel especially is pretty noir as most of the characters are morally gray. Most of them are doing some awful things, but you're also rooting for them in general as they're seeking redemption and/or revenge. I like that there are references to the "more innocent" late 90s and aughts from this fictional word because that packs a real world punch even in this more technologically advanced universe.

One male character has ladies throwing themselves at him a weeee bit much, but it's a lot more understandable than that guy in the Dan Brown books lol as this character is a much more layered person.

Definitely give this a go if you're a cyberpunk person and also if you want to branch out a bit!
I read an advance copy of this novel.
Julia Grubbs
2020-08-15
Wonderful Book in a Great Series
Daniel Verastiqui has done it again. Brigham Plaza is engrossing (crazy good world and characters) and a page turner I couldn't put down. Such a good book I was sad when it was over. Give us more Mr. Verastiqui.
James Winborn
2020-08-01
Excellent continuation of a vibrant world
This book is the latest to take place in a near future dystopian world from Mr. Verastiqui. The technologies involved seem more plausible by the day, and the struggles of the people more realistic. It's an excellent book, and definitely worth reading.