No More Mon­key Business

Gareth L Pow­ell on the Ack- Ack Macaque tril­ogy

SFX - - Red alert -

Bri­tish nov­el­ist Gareth L Pow­ell first met Ack- Ack Macaque in 2006, when he was search­ing for “a fic­tional an­ime character” to ap­pear in a short story. “I had the words ‘ Ack- Ack’ and ‘ Macaque’ jot­ted in one of my note­books,” he re­calls, “and they some­how grav­i­tated to­wards each other.”

Thus Pow­ell’s mon­key pi­lot made his way into the world, and made his name in Ack- Ack Macaque ( 2013), the first vol­ume in a now com­pleted tril­ogy. The novel shared the BSFA Award with Ann Leckie’s An­cil­lary Jus­tice, and Ack- Ack’s di­rect ap­proach to prob­lem- solv­ing (“If somebody’s get­ting in his face, he’ll bite them”) was an in­stant hit with read­ers.

“Maybe he’s my dark side, the part of me that doesn’t give a rat’s arse for rules and so­cial eti­quette, the part that gets bored in meet­ings, or just wants to blow off work and sit in the bath with a box of dough­nuts,” says Pow­ell. “The near­est com­par­i­son I can find for him is John Belushi’s character, Wild Bill Kelso, in Spiel­berg’s 1941 – although Ack- Ack has more fire in his belly, and is much a bet­ter pi­lot.”

Macaque At­tack, due to be pub­lished in Jan­uary 2015, won’t just fin­ish up the mon­key’s story, but tie up loose ends from his 2011 space opera The Rec­ol­lec­tion too. “It takes the story to a whole other level,” he says. “At the start of the book, Ack- Ack finds him­self at the head of a di­men­sion- hop­ping mon­key army – and things only get weirder.”

The macaque at­tacks on Thurs­day 15 Jan­uary 2015.

Gareth L Pow­ell, the man be­hind the macaque.

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