Mind Fuck by Manna Francis
Book one of The Administration by Manna Francis
The inspiration for the Administration series of stories is a maxim of Chris Boucher, script editor of Blakes 7—There are no bad guys. There are no good guys. There are only better guys, and worse guys.
One of the worse guys is Val Toreth. In a world where torture is a legitimate part of the investigative process, he works for the Investigation and Interrogation Division .
One of the better guys is Keir Warrick, a corporate director. His small corporation, SimTech, is developing a ‘sim’ system which places users in a fully-immersive virtual reality.
Their world is the dark future dystopia of New London, where Europe is controlled by a totalitarian bureaucracy, which shares political power with powerful corporations. The oppressive government uses torture, violence and the various Divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain power. The corporations fight amongst themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of ‘corporate sabotage’, uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its control over them.
The series follows Warrick and Toreth, and their families, friends and enemies as they struggle to survive and hope to prosper.
Oh, yes—and there is sex, and violence, and other things that upset the people who rate films. You may want to know that:
* Most stories set in the Administration contain m/m or m/f sex scenes.
* Many stories in the Administration contain consensual BDSM of varying degrees of severity.
* Some stories contain non-consensual sex and/or violence.
* Some stories contain ‘issues of consent’, such as a superior exploiting a subordinate, or other cases where full consent is in doubt.
* Two stories contain references to child abuse.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First let me say this series is a free read on the author’s website (HERE) but I didn’t realize that and bought the first book in print, Mind Fuck. No big deal since I enjoyed the book a lot but then wandered over to the author’s website for the myriad of follow up short stories, novellas, and sequel novels. Apparently there are 6 total books but the author still offers everything free on her site – the print editions have some new stories included to entice. I’ve been reading everything free (instant gratification) so I’m not exactly sure how the print books break down. I may buy them for their added enticements. If someone knows, please tell me!
So bottom line is this is a well written, slick, futuristic story that reminds you of the Matrix – just before the apocalyptic sky killing event. Imagine all that futuristic technology with an all powerful government and that is the world of the Administration. It’s slick, edgy, and seriously cool which will have fans of that genre really loving this series. It’s not perfect though and that’s likely to lose a few fans over the course of the books unfortunately.
The cast is pretty varied but there are a couple main characters. The first is Keir Warrick, the corporate genius that has created a SIM technology very similar to the Matrix world of instant gratification and simulation so real, it’s impossible to tell reality from virtual reality. Warrick is a fascinating, complex character and my absolute favorite of the series. It’s hard to pick but he’s a wonderfully eloquent, educated, moralistic, intelligent, emotionally calm, and centered man that discovers a serious bdsm/pain kink that he explores with the other main character, Val Toreth. Toreth is the complete opposite of Warrick in that he is an Administration Para-Investigator. Meaning he investigates high profile crimes and often tortures/kills witnesses to get facts, confessions, and information. Toreth is described as a socio-path who doesn’t see people as “real.” What really makes the series fascinating is that while this is true, Toreth is not inherently an evil person. He simply doesn’t have much – if any – empathy for people and is good at his job.
Toreth and Warrick’s relationship is complicated and not easy. I’m about halfway through all the posted stories on the author’s site and I can see the relationship evolving. Initially the two only get together due to Warrick’s desire for pain and domination during sex and Toreth’s desire to deliver such to Warrick. It’s very sensual, sexy, and has some incredibly hot erotica scenes. Yet at the same time Toreth is out sleeping around with everything that moves every single night. He shows no real attachment or commitment to Warrick despite continuing their illaision for months and years. This dichotomy makes for a lingering conflict between the two due to Toreth’s casual and frequent cruelty, which Warrick accepts due to the hot sex and deepening feelings. Toreth is saved from being totally unlikable since he’s a complex character and deeply, deeply terrified of falling in love. He (as of now) can’t allow himself to think of Warrick as something deeper even though he shows those emotions in glimpses. Warrick is also no doormat and shows incredible intelligence and strength when dealing with Toreth. While their relationship is heavily BDSM during sex, they are equals in a lot of ways and their chemistry is incredibly hot.
Although the main relationship between Toreth and Warrick is the focus, this is surrounded by the ebb and flow of world building and their respective jobs. There are a few mysteries that come into play in the stories, such as the first story Mind Fuck about deaths related to Warrick’s Sim technology and these are just as interesting and well thought out as the complex characters and their drama. The world building doesn’t feel especially fresh or innovative, but it has all the hallmarks that simply work for this genre. It feels futuristic and constantly interesting with enough details that you can identify and imagine the world of New London.
This isn’t really a review so much as calling attention to a good series. I’m not sure when I’ll finish it to be honest and being in the middle, I kind of want to slap everyone! Toreth’s continued infidelity hits buttons for me as a reader, but the author’s skill is shown in Warrick’s handling and always bringing me back no matter how much I want to slap Toreth silly. Toreth manages to be likable even though he’s not a nice guy and has some serious, deep seated issues.
The stories listed on the author’s site also offer glimpses into past events and slide sidetracks into secondary characters. They’re presented in order (I think) but they definitely feel like random stories the author wrote in the ‘verse without a sense of cohesion and order. There is a vague sense of time progressing but the stories take huge leaps (months at a time or more) so there is some disconnect when reading. Overall I’m pretty hooked and curious to see what will happen. I’m on that verge of giving up on Toreth (he better get his dick in his pants!) but the world building, other characters, and intensity of Toreth/Warrick’s relationship keeps sucking me in. If you’re a futuristic fan, check this series out.
Author site (again), but considering extra goodies from the print series, probably worth it.
13 thoughts on “Administration series by Manna Francis”
Still a favorite of mine, even after all these years. I adore The Administration.
I’m totally hooked. Completely, utterly. I also want to wail about why has no one told me about this series before? I’m halfway through and want to start at the beginning again. I’ll have to buy it in print I think because…. I have to! I don’t always like the actions but that’s why I love this series. I can be unhappy and love it at the same time.
I’m always amazed to hear people haven’t heard of it. 😉
I mod a small fan community for Administration fans here: http://community.livejournal.com/shades0fgrey/profile. It’s always fun when new people find it. It’s as though we all remember why we fell in love with it in the first place.
I’d be interested to hear which story is your favorite, when you’ve finished the series.
Oh no. I can’t see that *covers eyes* oh no… I’ll obsessively pour over the community.
I thank you but my sanity is weeping.
Wow, great review, Kassa! I’ve been curious about this one but had the feeling it was a huge sprawling series and I didn’t know where to start. This helps. Hmmm, BDSM and some non-con versus intriguing world-building? I’m really conflicted here, ha, ha! I’ll probably look into it. The whole futuristic world with feuding corporations sounds fascinating. Awhile back, I read a funny, satirical non-mm book Jennifer Government by Max Barry that explored this. Workers took surnames of the corporations that they worked for like Jack Pepsi and Jill Nike and Jennifer happened to be a government agent. 🙂
Thanks! This is a bit of a sprawling series and like you, I wouldn’t have started if I hadn’t bought the first print book. You can go to the author site, click on mind fuck and just start. It’s a lot of reading online (which some may not like) but it’s an absorbing series. It has all those great hallmarks and an edgy sexual aspect that just amps up the intrigue factor.
Ooo I’ll check that out, thank you! It sounds great.
Favourite “free” fic ever. Ever. (Apart from a few things by . Manna Francis rocks so hard, and I’m buying the books to show my appreciation in return. 🙂
I point everybody who liked “Special Forces” to The Administration.
Heheh, I got directed to your Special Forces series from several Admin fans too. Seems to be going both ways 🙂
Hehe, yeah. It seems to go both ways. Personally, I’m beyond flattered to be placed anywhere near the Admin. Talking of which, I need to order the newest book.
I’m only up to book 4, but am a big fan of this series. It’s very compelling and I’m fascinated/repulsed by Toreth. What a great creation he is.
It’s incredibly compelling! I’ve no clue where I am – book wise. I’m halfway down the list of stories. I think I just finished Pool School last night (heh). I can’t put this series down and have to FORCE myself literally to stop.
I have this ready to go on my iphone to read, so I’ll bump it up the queue I think!!! I like this type of fic, long and labor of love kinda thing. And BDSM. heh. Very cool review, it sounds so good!!
I’d bump it up! Just beware there are a lot of stories and you’ll get sucked in immediately. That’s the danger of the website. You think “oh that’s short I can start reading that” and before you know it, you’ve whipped through way more than you meant to and don’t want to stop lol.
I need like… Administration Anonymous. “Hello my name is Kassa and I can’t stop reading this series”