Junction True is firmly entrenched in the cyberpunk genre, but where traditional cyberpunk often looks at the interface between humans and technology, Junction True is about two people who use medical technology to form an interface between themselves. It’s rich in cyberpunk’s post-industrial tribalism and near-future tech nightmare, but merges it seamlessly with clinical body modification, sadomasochistic sex and bizarre hallucinogenic drugs. Like William Gibson meets David Cronenberg, this is a creepy story of unrequited love, and the lengths one man will go to try and win the heart of a woman.
In Junction True‘s alternate reality there’s an advanced drug culture that sees people implanting all sorts of weird things into their bodies, to provide everything from next-generation tattoos to euphoric highs. At the same time, people wear microphones and cameras, and calling themselves ‘journalers’ they document their entire lives online, with audiences of millions following the most devoted and interesting.
When one of these journalers, Dirk, meets the girl of his dreams in Teralyn, he throws himself at her feet. He’s submissive and she’s a dominatrix, demanding levels of devotion that most sane people would run a mile from. Dirk, however, is smitten, and agrees to lay down his life for her.
To prove his total devotion he consents to having a Junction True fitted. This is an illegal surgical procedure that bypasses his digestive system, leaving a port in his abdomen through which he can gain sustenance like an embryo. Teralyn has a similar port installed on her back, which can remove nourishment from her body and pass it on to Dirk. This is the only way Dirk can eat and drink, and their ports are compatible only with each other’s. If she can’t or won’t feed him, he will die.
What follows is a traditionally-structured three-act plot, a subtle thrill-ride of sex and surgery. This imbalanced, uneven relationship seems like a traditional story of unrequited love, but with Dirk’s life on the line, it gains an almost Shakespearean level of dramatic tragedy.
Vince Locke’s painted illustration is beautiful. His characters capture both the glamour of the sex and the horror of the body corruption in equal measure. He casts no judgement over the procedures, just captures and illustrates them, like the honest, open digital documents the journalers are making about themselves. A hazy, watercolour sheen pervades the art, giving it a watery wash, but which keeps it atmospheric and occasionally dream-like.
Together, Fawkes and Locke have created something horrifically magical. Although intrinsically tied to technology – and weird medical technology at that – Junction True is a slice of humanity. The characters and their relationships will haunt you long after you put the book down, and anyone who likes their adult science fiction laced with sex, technology and horror are sure to find it all in this book.