Archive for December 10th, 2014

Science-fiction novel ‘Assault on Sunrise’ depicts a monster movie brought to life

December 10, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 10, 2014

Assault on Sunrise, a 2013 science fiction novel by Michael Shea, boasts a nifty premise but suffers from indifferent execution.

The novel is set in Sunrise, a small town in mountainous Northern California. Some of its residents have roots in the area that go back generations; others are “ex-extras,” people who once lived in the sprawling Southern California urban-ghetto nightmare that’s known in the book as the Zoo.

The latter group agreed to be bit players in the movies, risking their lives against artificial monsters created by Hollywood studios in return for big payments. (Apparently the extras can get the biggest checks by having the most dramatic and visually striking encounters with hostile creatures.)

As the book starts, every so-called live action movie has been “cammed” in immense controlled environments that only simulated the appearance of being outdoors. That’s about to change, however. Panoply Studios mogul Val Margolian has covertly arranged for every resident of the town of Sunrise to be indicted for murder on trumped-up charges. That enables him to purchase a contract with the state to execute the townspeople by filming their fight against a flotilla of artificial oversized wasps and mantises.

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