Injection Volume One by Warren Ellis, drawn by Declan Shalvey. Image, 2015. 9781632154798. Contains Injection #1 – #5. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature.
Sarah: The pitch for Injection. (Although you sorta don’t find out ’till halfway through the book what the premise is…)
Gene: I know! But you have to have the pitch.
S: I would make someone promise: you have to read the book if I tell them why, but then they have to forget before they read the book. So: wait six months after reading this…
G: Or, like me, put it on hold at the library and then fail to remember why.
S: So a small group of people from different backgrounds in government and computing and folklore and magic get together and ask, what is the path of the future? What’s going to happen next? And what they see is a flatline. After all of this huge technological and cultural change, we’re going to go into this big lull. They try to find out how to change the world so that that doesn’t happen. And they come up with this awesome horrible idea, to combine artificial intelligence with magic with computer learning…
G: They animate an AI but they use magic, and then they release it into the internet.
S: And all of a sudden, things are happening!
G: And it turns out it can warp reality.
S: Oops. They call it the Injection. And not many people outside these folks know what’s going on.
G: Whatever it does looks like magic.
S: It sometimes follows the rules of magic in horrible, destructive ways. And if you’re thinking happy, rabbit out of a hat magic, no! This is horrible Baba Yaga magic that will fuck you up.
G: What’s the story of the first book? This woman, the main character, is insane. She’s one of the folks who released the Injection, a professor of Applied Sciences. Maria Killbride.
S: The guilt has driven her mad. Another guy is a hermit, trying to recharge his connection to the magic of England. And others. One is a detective.
G: (aside) (He’s the focus of the second book. You’re going to love it. The sandwich thread runs through the whole thing. I’ll loan it to you after we’re done talking. It gets better.)
S: (I need to hear that about a series.)
They’re the only people who can address the chaos they’ve created, some because it’s their job, others because of horrible guilt.
G: And the Injection is kind of stalking/contacting some of them.
S: “I know where you are! And I can mess you up bad!”
G: What is the Killbride’s mission in book 1?
S: Someone sounded a sounding stone and created this horrifying other reality….
G: What’s a sounding stone?
S: Oh, there were some on Ace of Cakes. These stones, you hit them with a hammer and they ring like a bell. Awesome. I have no idea why they ring.
G: I don’t want to know why. It’s magic.
S: So these sounding stones seemed really magical to ancient people. And to modern people apparently. Someone rings one and it creates this alternate reality that takes over physical bodies of folks who go into it, which is a bad thing, because that means the Injection has biological robots it can use.
G: And Killbride goes into the reality to try to help those folks.
S: And because it’s folkloric, she goes in to try to save people with the old ways.
G: With an insane sword that looks like Tesla designed a sword for a Hobbit.
S: I feel like you would stick this book on the shelf next to Good Omens, because it has that British folklore element.
G: I feel like it goes with all the John Constantine Hellblazer graphic novels. There are probably too many of them, but so many are good that you have to read them. I think Ellis wrote a few of them too. And Ellis wrote some graphic novels about a British combat magician, the first of which is called Strange Kiss.
S: Magicians in Britain do stuff like this! There was a coven in WWII there that raised energy to protect England.
(Cue discussion of who should play Killbride in the film adaptation. Sarah says Gillian Anderson. Gene says Emily Blunt or Mireille Enos.)
Injection Volume Two has been out for a while and is the best Sherlock Holmes homage Gene has ever read.
Injection Volume Three involves Stonehenge, and it comes out this month.
The series is ongoing.