DISCLAIMER: Since discovering Scott Sigler in 2008, he quickly became one of my all-time favourite authors and I have now read everything he has written and waited many years for the delayed appearance of Mount Fitz Roy. This article acts as both a review of a book his fans have been salivating about for years and a plug for some of his other fiction for the uninitiated. If you dig ultra-fast and violent horror which effortlessly blends science fiction and heart-pumping action, then he is worth every penny of your hard-earned cash. Nobody produces this type of horror better than Sigler.
Incredibly, Mount Fitz Roy is a sequel to Earthcore, which was first published in 2001. That’s a full two full decades between the releases in what has been repackaged as the Sun Symbol series. Historically, Earthcore is also of great significance in the development of technology in book formatting, as it is the world’s first podcast novel, with Ancestor being another of Sigler’s titles which was equally successful when this technology was still finding its feet. Over the subsequent period, many of Sigler’s books have been released free via podcasts before later arriving in print, the majority of which he narrates personally.
Reading Earthcore before Mount Fitz Roy is essential. The books might have been published twenty years apart, but the action is strongly connected and the sequel picks up the story shortly after the events of book one, with several key characters returning. Ultimately, you will get a much more fulfilling reading experience if you read them back-to-back, as they fit together like a glove, albeit one soaked in blood and gore.
Before we get to Mount Fitz Roy, here is a brief review of Earthcore I wrote a while ago:
Scott Sigler’s 2001 debut Earthcore is hard to beat for sheer imagination and craziness in a tale of an unfortunate mining expedition which finds a barrel-load of trouble when deep underground in the search for priceless platinum. The group stumbles upon something horribly nasty, and I’m not talking landslides. As debuts go, the author completely nailed the blueprint for the style of fiction he was to excel with: a seamless mash-up of horror and science fiction which was irresistible and brilliantly addictive. When I discovered Earthcore I found myself wondering where this type of fiction had been all my life? There are few better page-turners than this, sure the characters are sketchy and shallow, but who cares, for this type of novel it works perfectly. The level of cartoon-style violence is breathtaking, the excesses, the pulp science, the non-stop action as a group of scientists and mercenaries use new technology to dig three miles below the earth’s surface and get way more than they bargained for. Watch that body-count rise…
If you’ve never read Earthcore now is the perfect time as his publisher has since republished it with some minor revisions to bring the novel into the same timelines as his own Siglerverse world, syncing with his later fiction.
His Siglerverse fiction is worth closer inspection, as this includes some of my favourite ever novels. For some years I abandoned reading horror and after I discovered Infected and bounced directly onto the sequel Contagious, I reconnected with the genre and his stuff played a key role in reenergising my love of horror.
If you wanted to read Sigler in his full glory, this is the definitive order regarding Siglerverse:
- *Contagious (Infected book 2)
- Ancestor (standalone novel)
- Nocturnal (standalone novel)
- *Pandemic (Infected book 3)
- *Mount Fitz Roy (Earthcore book 2)
These are all killer reads, but the Infected Trilogy* is absolutely essential, with Contagious undoubtedly my favourite ever sequel. This trilogy concerns an alien-led pandemic, which is mentioned in passing a few times in Mount Fitz Roy, with a couple of characters from these earlier books popping up. You do not need to have read this trilogy to enjoy Earthcore and Mount Fitz Roy, but they are so awesome it is impossible not to recommend them. Ultimately, if you dig Infected and Contagious, there is a pretty good chance you are going to enjoy everything Sigler has written, as these two books are brutal examples of his particular brand of horror with style, blood, gore, tech, and kick-ass action.
Now, onto Mount Fitz Roy:
Scott Sigler hates spoilers, so I am going to keep this review brief and vague. First up, you will be stunned to hear this novel is a massive 890 pages and incredibly, for a book this size, it does not drag, and I devoured it over four days. If you have read Earthcore, you will know platinum miners get a nasty surprise when they are digging deep under the mountains in a remote part of Utah, finding something unfriendly which is not human. Mount Fitz Roy moves the action to another mountain on the disputed border between Argentina and Chile, where they realise there is another potentially much larger deposit of the priceless metal. However, it is unclear whether those on the hunt will encounter the same type of resistance as they did in Earthcore. Greed, revenge and stupidity are all contributing factors as the prospectors enter the caves and the body count begins to rise.
Mount Fitz Roy is framed around two feuding groups who have to rebuild their reserves after the disastrous events at the end of book one and try to outmanoeuvre the other in arriving at the remote mountain first. There is a lot of entertaining plotting and subterfuge, with one of the groups reuniting their own version of the Dirty Dozen. Fans of the Infected series will also be delighted to see Murray Longworth making a guest appearance! Various characters return, including Patrick ‘Ender’ O'Doyle, Bertha Lybrand and Angus Kool, who are motivated by a blend of revenge and greed. However, it is a new character who steals the show: Tommy ‘Worm’ Strymon, sucked back into the mercenary life, the former sniper wrestles with leaving his old life behind whilst realising his current predicament could have been lifted from one of the science fiction novels he loved so much.
890 pages is very long for an action/horror novel, but existing fans will fall into the natural Sigler groove very easily, new readers might need to build up some stamina, with the Infected trilogy being a perfect place to dip their toes in the Sigler literary water. The plot takes its time reaching the mountain and features a colourful band of mercenaries, scientists and archaeologists, jumping from character to character as the depth of the dig goes lower and lower. As one comes to expect with a Sigler novel, there is a crazy amount of technology on show, with (almost) mad scientist Angus bringing his dangerous boy-toys to the party, including robot dogs and suits which allow them to survive three miles underground. Most of the science does not seem to be so far-fetched and fans of action novels should lap this up.
This is Scott Sigler in very fine form and he really is the master of this style of pulp horror. It is all very hard-assed stuff and do not expect deep emotional conversations, as always his fiction is the literary equivalent of an uppercut to the jaw and I would not have it any other way.