Book Jacket


rank 5917
word count 72062
date submitted 13.01.2010
date updated 13.02.2010
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Thriller...
classification: moderate

Tokyo Zero

Marc Horne

One man goes to Tokyo to end the world. It goes fairly well.


"I went to Tokyo because The Cult of Forgetting needed my help in starting their apocalypse. The lodgings were not great and my terror cell made rather bad flat-mates other than the ex-army guy, who at least took me out drinking on the other side of the train tracks. And it was certainly interesting to meet the leader of their cult: I don't know if he really had mystical powers and could see the future, but he certainly faked it well.
"Of course things started to fall apart once I got tangled up with the beautiful hit-girl that they sent to watch over us. And I wish all those people had not died in that strange brain-washed village. Or those other people in the basement. Or the guys from the night I was dumped on the train tracks.
"On the other hand, I did learn a lot about the yakuza, the sinister secret of the English-Language schools and about the best places to position bio-chemical weapons in large train stations. And I did all this without letting them know that I, and my family, had plans all of our own for how to end the world."

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James B. wrote 2 hours ago

This is pretty much great writing and in some ways I should like it much more than I do - I think it has been pointed out in other comments that for some reason there is an "overly clever" tone to it, almost a little smug. Which of course could be part and parcel of the lead character, it's just that I feel like I don't really want to invest in taking the journey with him. It's a shame, because you are really good writer, just I felt I wanted less of the over-smartness. Other people may disagree, and that's all good right?

RMarieClaire wrote 980 days ago

Loving this so far. I do feel that occasionally your writing leans towards the 'too obscure', the too self-consciously clever. But this is still one of the more original books I've read on here. A pity it seems to have fallen off people's radars. I'll back, with a view to reading all the way through and comment more fully.

Quenntis wrote 1332 days ago

I’ve read your first section of 10 parts uploaded as “Chapter 1”. My favorite ‘chapter’ by far is Chapter 5. The descriptions and brief back story of the new friends perfectly capture their characters – in short powerful images. Great writing, especially about the sax player and the old man who died – motivating him to dedicate his life to searching, not making. That really hit home for me.

As to the opening of your book, it’s a nice hook – putting your MC (and narrator) in danger before flashing back to the more ‘boring’ parts of how he got there. You might try and seesaw back to the danger of the opening again later on just to bring the urgency back? Perhaps after ‘chapter’ six, the meeting of new friends – the same friends he’s sharing the shootout with. Just an idea. Me thinking out loud.

I like your MC’s voice and observations about the world around him. He’s part of a terrorist operation, planning to do some bad things, but I’m still rooting for him. I also like the opportunities for wordplay that you bring in – with Japanese words and confusing signs and people selling things. I feel you could go further with this. It really puts the reader in a strange place, which is a good thing. Thanks for uploading your work on Authonomy. I’ve really enjoyed reading it.

Owen Quinn wrote 1406 days ago

A fast paced story that pulls no punches. It's as if every word serves a purpose here to weave a tapestry of vivid and colourful drama and action, tempered by human drama. Compelling, will continue.

mclevin wrote 1409 days ago

This opens with Palahniuk-like pace and fervor, and does not relent. I love the first-person account of a man who doesn't allow harrowing and frantic situations to hinder his sharp wit and cool/collected manner. This guy is dark and damaged yet very likeable -- not unlike Palahniuk's Tyler Durden (Fight Club) or Victor Mancini (Choke).

Well done.

Welcome to my shelf.


Notes on an Orange Burial (a tragicomedy)

DP Walker wrote 1409 days ago

HI Marc
I loved what I read of this. Mind you, I am biased given that I spent three years teaching English in Tokyo so could relate to bits of it. Great narrative, funny as well as action packed. A quality read.
DP Walker
Five Dares

thrillerlover wrote 1439 days ago

I’ve added your book to my watchlist. Best of luck with it!

A Knight wrote 1443 days ago

Wow, brilliant! Immediately we're right in the thick of the action, and you keep us moving at an unrelenting pace. First person was a fantastic choice, and the narrative voice puts this in a league of its own.

Backed with pleasure.
Abi xxx

carlashmore wrote 1450 days ago

Fantastic. Thrown straight into the action. And there's plenty of it. What a truly imaginative premise - one of my favourites on the site. Great use of first person, even in the pitch which I haven;t seen done before. You write with such assurance, utterly professional and surely very commercial. You also have a unique voice that carries everything along nicely. I thought this was great.
The Time Hunters

Becca wrote 1452 days ago

Great voice! I really like a little bit of amusement in the stories I read, and your MC has one of those voices--witty, lighthearted. After reading the first chapter i went back and read your premise. It's an accurate representation of the voice of your writing. I wouldn't change a thing from what I've read. BACKED.
The Forever Girl

klouholmes wrote 1466 days ago

Hi Marc, The narrative voice has a mysterious element yet it is very clear in describing Japan and the odd characters that the narrator meets. Then the Cult of Forgetting and its Buddhist reason puts everything in another shade. This has a fascinating quality, tour-like at first while the strangeness begins to sink in. The writing is excellent! Katherine (The Swan Bonnet)

Burgio wrote 1483 days ago

I like stories that whisk me away from my everyday world and transport me to a new and different one. And this one certainly does that. On top of that, it's funny - a really enjoyable read. I'm adding it to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

soutexmex wrote 1489 days ago

I fell in love with this when I read the pitches. I also use that same premise my book as well so I might be a bit biased. But this is some good stuff. SHELVED!

I can your comments on my book when you get a chance. Cheers!

The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

Fromante wrote 1489 days ago

I don't know what others think, but would this not make or be a good base for a good film? It has all the ingredients for fun and games, with the thrills built around them. I wish you all the very best with this Marc. Good Luck. Sorry I am late commenting.

lynn clayton wrote 1490 days ago

Hysterical. The Jackal and his arse operations? Somehow one can believe it. It's a different way of looking at a thriller and an entertaining one. It's brilliant. Backed. Lynn

gillyflower wrote 1494 days ago

Your pitch is so amusing that it put me in a good mood straightaway, and the book has certainly lived up to its promise. 'The sinister secret of the English Language schools,' was the first line that hooked me in, but wasn't the last. Your opening scene, with the chase across the station, ending with the kiosk man falling down, is both exciting and enormously funny. You use this to introduce two of the main characters, apart from the narrator; that is, the hit woman, whom whom he falls in love with, and his fellow conspirator, Honda. His first meeting with Honda is a very funny episode, where the narrator buys squid, as a code, at the wrong station, then gets back in the train, gets off at the right station, and buys more. Your humour flows consistently in one liners and also in situations like this, and while there are serious moments, such as the reference to his mother's death in Cambodia, and even frightening moments, your relaxed narrative voice is more often than not on the verge of a joke. I'm enjoying this book a lot. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

Marc Horne wrote 1494 days ago

I really, really need to own a copy of this.
I am a fan.

I have a copy for you...

Teric Darken wrote 1495 days ago

Greetings Marc!

I enjoyed reading Tokyo Zero! The intro was wonderfully executed with the fast-paced chase scene that hooks the reader immediately. Your manuscript also contains a liberal dose of humor, making your novel an engaging read. Kudos on a job well done! Backed.

Teric Darken

(K - I - L - L FM 100 / U-TURN KiLLuR)

Sessha Batto wrote 1495 days ago

Quirky, different, eminently enjoyable. Yukio Mishima turtle heads indeed!


Mooderino wrote 1495 days ago

The first para started well with interesting stuff going on, but I felt you overused the verb 'are' in that first bit. It is an unnecessary kind of overwriting that is fixed by using the verb you've stuck in the gerund, so 'Except when they are shooting at you...' would work just as well if it was: Except when they shoot at you... The difference is the prose is cleaner and reads more smoothly. It is a matter of taste though.

Honda's smashing of railway staff to pieces wasnt clear to me. How and why was he doing that? And what do you mean by the reminder about the peaked hats? I did not follow.

I'm not sure what 'aggressively attractive' looks like.

"When this is over, that will be interesting to find out. If i see her mug shot on tv or I never see her again will be how I find out."
I found this awkward to read, th e repeat of 'find out' was espcially awkward. i would suggest you would lose nothing of you were to contract it to:
"When this is over, if i see her mug shot on tv or I never see her again will be how I find out."
the fact it's of interest to him is sort of implied.

It does feel like you go off on tangents quite a lot, and I'm not entirely convinced where you go merits the detour. You throw in details, names and places, that will play a part later on in the story that might just as well wait to be mentioned when its their time. Certainly I don't think I'll remember you had mentioned Claire's uncles name whenever we finally get to meeting her and it doesn't feel particularly imprtant t know those sorts of details right now. Of course, I could be wrong.

The general tone and content is quite interesting and I found him an angaging character so I do think it shows alot of potential and most likely I would keep reading. It seems to be going somewhere and I sense I would probably find it an amusing read. Of course, i could be wrong about that too.

Happy to back.


StampMan wrote 1495 days ago

Daisy Anne's right yet again. Good work. Shelved.
More comments should come later in the week when I've got some time off work.

Daisy Anne Gree wrote 1496 days ago

I really, really need to own a copy of this.
I am a fan.

yasmin esack wrote 1499 days ago

Stupendous opening and more I love the insights into Japan lifestyle/

Emoo wrote 1507 days ago


Hsiau Hsia Moo

(The Monarch Butterfly)

RichardBard wrote 1513 days ago

This was a fun read. Very unusual with good wit. Well done.

Richard Bard

AlanMarling wrote 1516 days ago

Dear Mark Horne,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your short pitch made me chuckle. I commend you for writing your pitch using narrative voice. Well done, sir. I laughed at your opening sentence (the good kind of laughter). I continued to grin, especially at “Let’s Kiosk!” I’m a bit confused about the beautiful traitor you introduce in the same paragraph. I like how you describe the culture shock exacerbated by heat shock. Love the phrase “a local brand that mapped its country on the wrinkles of aging tough guys”. You have “describe” and “describing” in the same sentence, which is something of a hiccup. Great portrayal of the Jackal, including his disemboweling smile. The humidity made me wince. Heehee, “Rub Bomb”. Excellent end of chapter hook.

Your story has both dynamism and humor, and I enjoyed it. Bravo! Backed.

Best wishes,
Alan Marling

Nick Poole2 wrote 1517 days ago

This starts apace and there are some good lines. (I especially liked "'Stop!' cry the cops in English, which I take personally.")

I go on...more cracking lines. No temperature on the ground announcement. The crew that have the look of parachute instructors. A $32 beer...there's too many to keep telling.

I've got a silly appreciative grin on my face.

Sato Yosuke. Killer. Ugly fucker.

Carlos the Jackal...just what was the father's business?

Tokyo. The Path of Forgetting.

Really...I'm not going to be able to make any helpful comment on this except to sort of purr contentedly. There's some fine work to be dug out around Authonomy and this is one of the upper echelon.

Shelved, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

"Mirror In The Sky" (involved in a race to the desk currently, if you are interested in taking a peek)

lionel25 wrote 1518 days ago

Wow! Original, gripping, and amusing. Marc, either you have it or you don't, and I think you have it at the highest level. Nothing to nitpick in that first chapter.

Sincerely backed.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

David Fearnhead wrote 1522 days ago

Loved the one line short pitch, one of the best I've read on the site.
I'm a fan of fish out water tales, it's kind of like reading a travel book with a story woven through it to make it interesting. Right from the start talking about the size of Japanese policeman's guns I was with you in this book.
It's packed full of the sort of detail i really look out for to know a writer knows what he is talking about (that must be the journalist in me) and you really deliver a book which I am sure you have laboured over. I like the short chapters even though you have uploaded them as large blocks of text on here. There's the odd clichéd sentence, which we all do, but you'd be better of without. It's sharply written with sentences spat out at times like a shopping list, but it works well for your style.
Bailey of the Saints

BJ Otto wrote 1523 days ago

I was surprised by this one. Very quirky and funny in parts, the casual quick wit is great. Some interesting thinking, a few of the descriptions were refreshingly well thought out. Well written, although a bit 'wordy' in some parts. Would recommend this to everyone to take a look at, the opening gets you hooked! Backed with pleasure

jammer wrote 1527 days ago

Hey Marc, loads of story interest here, Japan is a fascinating back-drop, and seems to have a connection with all my favourite writers (David Peace, David Mitchell). Nice start in media res - my only thought was with pace, the voice is quite ponderous with the opening section despite the high-octane action - but enough intrigue to read on, and that is really what it's all about. Well done.

MarkRTrost wrote 1528 days ago

Oh yeah, I had problems with a girl named claire too. But, I did enjoy singing the gilbert o'sullivan tune to her during our romantic moments and it beat the hell out of singing "Julie" (the Bobby Sherman) tune to Julie. Although Julie had a lot more going for her. And we made a better couple. I probably should have just hummed the damn song to her. We might still be together.


You have a very casual narrative style. I like reading first person narratives. And when they are casual, it’s like there is an assumed friendship between the narrator and the reader. So I like that. It’s like the reader is the sidekick.

I worried that your narrative voice is too casual. And I don’t think it is. But you have a few awkward places when your sentence structure seems casual - but it’s actually just grammatically incorrect. The problem is that it indicates more sloth (author was haphazard in construction and just wanted to complete the thought and not thoughtfully complete the task) than a narrative device. I think you need to clean that up. It’s easily editable. Just rethink some of your word placements in the sentences.

I see this as a cross media work - this is easily film / series.

Mark R. Trost
“Post Marked.”

Gryffyd wrote 1529 days ago

Very edgy and singular. I like it a lot.

vanessa musson wrote 1530 days ago

I loved the wacky cover, the quirky synopsis and the whimsical story itself. Refreshingly different with wonderfully arresting imagery - Japanese trains will forever now be "long, silver, grooved lunchboxes". : - )

Banana In The Briefcase

K.Z. Freeman wrote 1531 days ago

A great read, didnt read the long pitch as it wasnt necesary lol.

Bradley Wind wrote 1531 days ago

First, I really like your cover.
Your pitches are well done.
The long pitch is good for giving people an idea of what your writing is like (good) but not really a pitch.
Creating these pitches is a good exercise in summary/encapsulation but then you probably know that so please excuse.
I'm pulled into this world and am very interested in the meeting of the number 2 in the Japanese death cults.
Wondering if you've read any Haruki Murakami. I think you might enjoy his last novel which yours slightly reminds me of.
Best of luck to you!

bonalibro wrote 1532 days ago


I have backed you book because I found it eminently readable
and have to cover 25 books a day just to keep my place on here.
If you would like a more specific comment please return the favor.
Good luck with it.

Tim Chambers
Moonbeam Highway: With Apologies to Miguel de Cervantes.

Helena wrote 1533 days ago

Hi Marc, I wasn't sure what to expect from the synopsis. I found it a little confusing but this is really strong writing. I like that you started with dialogue. I was immediately swept up in the chase and your descriptions are short and subtly but very effective, I could see your characters head trying to duck comically from the bullets as he stood a clear four inches above the masses. You move on to fill in the back story then, a foreigner in a strange land, you clearly have spent a lot of time researching or perhaps living in Japan and your descriptions are very believable, I havent been to japan but have always been fascinated by the culture. Anyway this is a really good read and it's on my shelf. Helena (A Load of Rubbish)

Keefieboy wrote 1534 days ago

Marc, this is tremendously good. Your wry observations on Japan, your descriptions and the basic premise are all very appealing. One typo in ch 2: computer ...-> brother of? Shelved.

Tybalt & Theo

SRFire wrote 1536 days ago

Backed with pleasure, Sana

TheLoriC wrote 1536 days ago

I honestly can't add to the comments and feedback that has been posted, but I will say that this book and its contents show early potential, and shelving on that merit. Good luck to you! =)

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

Marc Horne wrote 1536 days ago

fancy seeing you over hear - I had no idea you were an Authonomite. Congrats on making the ebooksjustpublished 2009 Top 10 with this, most deservingly.
Best, Dan (@agnieszkasshoes)

Hey what's up! Yeah, I've been hanging here for a few weeks now since I heard that this was what a slush pile looks like. It was a lot less slushy than I expected. Thanks for filling me in on the Top 10 thing: how did my ego surfing miss that? Congrats to you too.

Sandrine wrote 1536 days ago

fancy seeing you over hear - I had no idea you were an Authonomite. Congrats on making the ebooksjustpublished 2009 Top 10 with this, most deservingly.
Best, Dan (@agnieszkasshoes)

Bob Steele wrote 1537 days ago

The pitch for Tokyo Zero didn't work well for me - I would prefer an overview of the storyline, characters and main events so I can make my own mind up rather than someone else's opinion about the structure and context. However, the opening chapters gripped me, from the action packed introduction through to the gentler paced first person narrative of the following chapters. This is written in an easy style I enjoyed very much, with a thread of self-deprecating humour running through it to add spice to your characters. No significant nitpicks with this - I'll be happy to back it.

Freeman wrote 1538 days ago

I have never been to Japan but I loved the film ‘Lost in Translation’- with Bill Murray in Tokyo. Being taller than them is a big problem, pardon the pun. My youngest brother learnt Japanese for a number of years and insisted on showing me the writing and explaining what it meant. This is a very colourful and descriptive story and I enjoyed reading it. I can’t imagine having a ‘flimsy’ door, how would it stop someone coming in?

This is well written and gives a good insight into the Japanese culture. I will back your book with great pleasure.

Life Bringer

Jared wrote 1538 days ago

I love the cover and the short pitch. The long pitch could be stronger - I'd rather hear about what's in the book than have an opinion about it by someone else. You have an imaginative approach and the ability to write fiction in the thriller genre. That said, this needs to be more audacious at the start, give the reader action early on and they'll stay with you. You've got exotic locations that work well for a Western audience and there's so much here that could develop into a tight and effective thriller. Not all there as yet, but I've got high hopes of this book. Backed.

Alexander De Witte wrote 1540 days ago

Not my genre this but I have to say that it is very well written. I agree with you that the build up is so slow. I think scene setting is important for sure but so many thriller addicts lust after action from the outset. It's a fine line. There is no doubt that you have a fertile imagination, you write prose solidly and you construct effective dialogue. Clever short pitch and a topical book cover - but your longer pitch could be improved upon.

I think you have produced something highly creditable with this offering. You have a definite market out there. Best of luck reaching it.


paxie wrote 1542 days ago


If I'm honest I found the writing voice a bit formal for the
we are........they are........we're and they're much easier on the eye of the reader.....Especially in your opening, where it's a fast action scene....You want the reader to keep to pace, your characters are running , they're being shot at, and the reflective narrative voice sounds like a school teacher in front of a class,,,,,

You relax in't ......I'll..........

It just struck me as an inconsistency in the writing voice.....The character should 'sound' the same in thought as in dialogue...

Fabulous premise and great story.......I hope my comments helps.

Shelved with good wishes

bonalibro wrote 1543 days ago

This is well done. It reads easily. The voice is crisp and cool and vaguely sinister. Father a friend of Carlos the Jackal. Interesting stuff.

Terry Dip wrote 1544 days ago

I hope, for the sake of all Japanese men, that your first sentence isn't meant to be a double entendre.

This is snappy and catchy. Makes me think of Tokyo Pop, in the most fundamental meaning of the term.

I'll also never look at Narita the same again. Most importantly, I think, this piece has demonstrated to me once again the power of past tense and why so many authors have chosen to use it even though it seems that first-person present is in vogue especially in the YA fantasy market, which is quite irrelevant to you, but I'm just saying (I've been referring to the part when the narrator speaks of Claire being the woman he will fall in love with).

Great fun.