Deja Vu by Ian Hocking. A review

Cyberpunk is without any doubt one of my favourite brands of SF, and I am always glad when I discover authors and books that can stay side by side with William Gibson, Bruce Sterling or Richard K Morgan on the same shelf. Déjà Vu (first book in the Saskia Brandt series) by Ian Hocking is one of them.

dejaThe outline of Unsung Stories web pages provides a good introduction to the novel: “In the year 2023 Saskia Brandt, detective with the European FIB, comes back from holiday newly single, tired and full of sadness. Heading straight back to the office she finds no peace, only her receptionist dead and no suspects. Given only 12 hours to clear her name she sets to work on unravelling the mystery, one that proves greater than the sum of its parts. David Proctor is just an academic eating his breakfast until he gets a phone-call telling him the prototype computer – Ego – he has been loaned is now the only one left. Meanwhile, someone has broken into his house, someone who wants him to go back to the lab where his wife died in a bomb attack 20 years before. As the mysteries and intrigue envelop Saskia and David they are forced to unpick their own pasts. Because in Déjà Vu you find that things aren’t as they seem, truth is a matter of perspective and that the past can change just as quickly as the future.”

Does the image on the cover remind you anything? Of course, Gibson’s Mona Lisa (from Mona Lisa Overdrive), reinterpreted under Ian Hocking’s own lenses. The author made this Mona less victim and more in charge of her own future – a pleasant surprise. While she’s without any doubt what best the novel has to offer, I have also enjoyed the pace and the story itself, even though I found the worldbuilding somehow lacking details (which I could imagine, given the genre. But I would have still liked to know more). I do expect them to be made clearer in the next instalments, as much as I hope that Mona / Saskia will get more space (contrary to what you would expect, her role is less central than the one David Proctor plays, and that’s a pity).


I was also not completely sold on the time travel part itself, but I have to confess I have a personal dislike for time travel stories in general, so it would be unfair to nail it as a shortcoming of this book. Much more interesting was to me the mind control-related issues, which, while not new, are treated in a satisfactory way.

In short, and albeit the points I have mentioned, this is a book I’ll certainly recommend to anybody enjoying fast-paced thrillers and cyberpunk.

Just a few words regarding the publisher, Unsung Stories I have to say I’m quite impressed with the good job this new press is doing. I have already reviewed another of their titles (Dark Star) and I have to say the quality of their selection is consistently high, which bodes well for the future.

Deja Vu by Ian Hocking, 2014, published by Unsung Stories (this is a new edition. The original one, self-published, came out in 2011). Where I got it: from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)


  1. sjhigbee

    This sounds like one to put on my TBR list – many thanks for sharing:)

    1. Steph P. Bianchini

      A lot of potential here, and I have good expectations for the sequel 🙂

      1. sjhigbee

        Ah… One to Watch, then:).

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Cyberpunk usually has only a 50/50 chance of appealing to my taste, but this novel sounds very intriguing, so I will add it to my “next” list for future reference. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Steph P. Bianchini (Post author)

      It was a good surprise for me too. 🙂

  3. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I haven’t read any cyber punk so perhaps I should. Intriguing review thanks for sharing. 🙂


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