Roland Allnach

multi-award winning author of the strange and surreal


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The Digital Now - Reviews & Interviews

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A PDF excerpt of The Digital Now is available for your reading curiosity. (Download Adobe Reader here.)

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5 Star Review, Pacific Book Review

  Very interesting and complex: This is a dark vision of the future with many of the themes characteristic of classic dystopian literature but with a modern digital spin. The Matrix meets Wag the Dog with some elements of classics such as 1984. The devolution of individual freedom is a huge factor in this story and any efforts to recover it will require a modern notion of how we, and the characters in the novel are connected and wired in. This is the rub. Being connected, we are all subject to manipulation, influence, and being “scripted” or programmed. But in a digital age where and when this “wired in” is so ubiquitous in every part of life, the only way to rediscover individuality is within the system.

   In the world of this dystopia, we have Carly, a Partolman whose job it is to violently enforce the oppressive laws of the land. Ignorance is bliss in her “reality.” She spends her days beating unruly “cones” into submission and her nights are spent in underground sex dens with all of the dark hedonism of a post-apocalyptic Sodom & Gomorrah. Had she continued on with this life, she would have been ignorantly satisfied. She is scripted to wake up each day with a craving to continue this way. In essence, she is no more human than a computer program.

   However, a knock on the head (also scripted by a manipulation within the system) makes her and her partner Graham Chapel begin to question things. Her awakening is gradual and necessarily so because there are a number of different players who intend to use her for their own personal gains or the benefit of the social system of control called “Central.” As she becomes intuitively attuned to how select people are digitally telepathic, and able to influence and manipulate her and others, she also becomes able to resist being scripted. This is the first step in “self-predilection” or to put it more simply, individual freedom.

   The ways in which some of these rogues, watchers, and predilectors digitally manipulate society and others is a convoluted matrix akin to a room full of writers arguing over a script. It is like they are Greek Gods toying with humanity. Since Carly is somewhat of a “chosen one,” there are elements of spirituality along with the Greek God idea; as well as the material aspects of socially digital programming.

   The masses live under a false consciousness “a nod to Marx maybe” as their thoughts and actions are scripted by these warring social programmers. Wars are written into reality to distract these masses. People are puppets or simulacra. Carly’s journey into discovering the complicated fractalized way this programming operates is difficult until she has a final realization: that in order to change the system, one must do so within that system. In this novel, the Process is reality and the Dream is a kind of cultural consciousness a nod to Jung maybe. With everyone being wired together, the idea of cultural consciousness feels more mechanical or electrical, but the author puts a kind of Buddhist or global spin on it. So, this dystopia is post-apocalyptic and postmodern, but there are spiritual elements as well and the story dances around the idea of what a soul is or can be.

  I found The Digital Now to be completely enthralling, terrifying and unique. Fans of science fiction on are going to love reading The Digital Now by Roland Allnach.


5 Star Review, by Janelle Fila at Readers' Favorite

  The Digital Now by Roland Allnach is a dystopian and science fiction tale that follows the life of Patrolman Carly Westing, an up and coming young star who has a hunger for violence that is rooted in the justice system she serves. She believes in what she does, even if she has to crack a few skulls to do it. But when she discovers that everything she believes in is actually built around secrets and lies, she questions who she can trust. Her life is suddenly no longer black and white and, instead, she is now part of a chess game built on more lies, deep secrets, and shifting perceptions. The power and authority she once worked for turns against her and Carly is forced to make a choice. Will she continue to be their pawn and do their bidding or can she rise to defeat them and make the future a better place? 

  The Digital Now by Roland Allnach is a well written story about violence and the lust for power. Carly is a very interesting, well developed character who is not the typical heroine. I loved the fact that she craved violence. She looked forward to her job of maiming, beating, and even killing those who didn't serve her cause. I found her honesty refreshing and this made her character very likeable and authentic. I was so happy to follow her along an incredible journey into the dark, dangerous world that Allnach created.

4 Star Review, by Ryan Jordan at Readers' Favorite

  The Digital Now by Roland Allnach is a futuristic novel about a dystopian future with a fairly traditional story that has a lot of new twists. Our main character and hero is a woman who is having memories of apples swimming through her mind and odd details she can't quite explain that don't really make sense in her day-to-day life. She is a patrolwoman working the streets and her world is falling apart around her; there is a quite relevant line and idea in the novel that gets repeated a few times: "Carly's childhood ended with the rattle of a repeater." She had her innocence taken away from her when her family was killed in their domicile. But, we also quickly find out that not everything is as it seems and she's been lied to this entire time. We watch her descent into the chaotic world of revenge as she tries to decide what to do with her life ... with this new found information.

  I really liked the main character and thought it was a great creation of a dystopian world. Endo was interesting, and the Dream and Process was a really cool idea. The writing employed is excellent and the characters are interesting and brutal, the sort of dystopian leadership figures that are expected in a novel like this, with fuzzy morals and dark ambitions. It fits the genre perfectly and is a wild and entertaining ride, though I think in a few places it can get confusing with all of the new terms and concepts being introduced that serve to progress the story or build the world. The action scenes are fantastic, though occasionally we get bogged down in unnecessary details that hinder the flow of the work. All in all, The Digital Now by Roland Allnach is a well written dystopian novel that fits perfectly into the genre and tells an excellent story.

4 Star Review, by Lit Amri at Readers' Favorite

  The Digital Now by Roland Allnach is a dystopian, sci-fi urban tale set in the city of Seven Hills that centers on Patrolman Carly Westing. Carly discovers her reality is built on lies and veiled secrets. Scripting codes are used to guide people. They basically decide what’s going to happen, controlling people’s lives and memories. When the authority she once protected turns on her, her life is catapulted into a violent cat and mouse game of shifting perceptions. 

  There are a lot of action scenes in the story. Allnach does a good job to make sure that every fight and battle advance the plot, as well as give us enough insight into the action so that we can picture the scene in our minds. The action scenes also give readers the opportunity to see the traits of the characters. That said, it took a while for me to familiarize myself with the world building – particularly Central and Drive Control – and figure out the direction of the plot. The complexity of the world, particularly in terms of cyber tech, reminds me of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell. 

  Characterization is solid. Carly, Noel, Graham, Gadwick and others (main cast or otherwise) are well-developed and memorable. Back story is filled in very neatly and revealed bit by bit as the plot progresses. Carly’s past is intriguing and the truth becomes more interesting as she discovers more about the ‘reality’ that is implanted in people’s mind. Overall, The Digital Now is an intriguing read with an imaginative premise and plot.



The Digital Now, reviewed by Amy Lignor for Feathered Quill Reviews

  If you love dystopian “magic,” you’ll love this one. Carly Westing is our main character in this fantastical universe. Referred to as a Patrolman, she is the law and order type. And, much like the bow and arrow was to Katniss in The Hunger Games, Carly never leaves home without her trusted repeater at her side.

  At the very beginning of this tale, Carly and her partner/patrolmate, Graham Chapel, find themselves in the midst of an all-out riot being held on the streets of the City of Seven Hills – a place they have both sworn to protect. Highly interesting, her home (as described by the author) has the city’s seven hills curving around one edge of the distant Downlow—the massive, sunken concrete dome that entombed the waste pile of the old city. Graham is a good man and a good partner; however, their boss, Patrolmaster Alden Bayard, is not the nicest of all men. In fact, he has a tendency to take advantage of things, including his employees. There is also Endo Stutts; whether he is friend or foe will be up to you to find out.

  Carly has a slight obsession, if you will, with her home. She actually loves the City, feels like it’s a part of her, but doesn’t understand why it “belongs” to others in power. When it comes to light that a riot was simply a cover for far more sinister activity, Carly finds herself thrown into a mystery of mammoth proportions. She and Graham go on a search of the city, and when she meets up with a resident who calls himself Ian Gadwick, Carly finds out new data that will change the course of her life. Ian tells her that he actually “is/owns” the City. He is looking for his successor, and Carly is the one he seeks. So why is Carly Westing in line for the throne, so to speak? What exactly must she do to get the job? And will she be able to sort out her real friends from some very real enemies in order to get what’s coming to her?

  This is an author who has given his dystopian world real legs to stand on. His characters are attractive, the pace is all action, and the City itself is a riveting place to spend some time. You will love the imagination, too. From eating the real breakfast of champions, Shaky Flakes and Moo-ju; to watching the patrolmen train with civi-sticks, this tale has it all. Much like this author’s other collections, in this book he has brought together all the best parts of fantasy, horror, technological savvy, and thrown in supernatural spice that would make the X-Filesgang envious.

   Quill says: One read of an Allnach title and you’ll be a fan for life!




The Digital Now, reviewed by John E. Roper for The US Review of Books

A US Review of Books "Recommended Read"

"It was maintenance, maintenance for the Process. Society must go on; Central must go on. The data threads must not be disturbed."

Carly Westing lives in the moment. Every day is the same for her as a patrolman - a day of intense brutality, mindless sex with colleagues or neighbors, heavy drinking, and the periodic joy of "meat-farming" someone with her repeater. Like all patrolmen, she never questions her role in life, nor does she retain many long-term memories other than some fragments of a childhood that seem at odds with how things are supposed to be in a society where Central is in control. Little does she suspect that everything she has always believed about herself and her world is soon going to change.

In this chilling and thought-provoking novel, Allnach spins a tale of a dark future where nothing one sees or experiences can ever be taken at face value. Like Neo in The Matrix, Carly wakes to a new perception of reality and must learn to not only survive in the real world but also choose whether or not to embrace what appears to be her destiny. Yet despite some thematic similarities and the use of data threads that bring to mind the iconic, opening images from the Wachowski siblings' film, the author's story is far from derivative. In addition, the society he has crafted is uniquely his own.

The author's world-building skills are top-notch as are his abilities to construct a well-paced plot and develop believable characters. The awakening of ethical insights and a moral compass in those who once blindly dealt death and destruction adds just the right amount of depth to balance out the action. While some scenes are extremely graphic, they also serve to emphasize the absolute depravity of Central's perfect world. Rich in atmosphere and sheer readability, Allnach's novel is a solid addition to dystopian fiction.





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