A diamond-hard, visionary new SF thriller. Nailed-down cyberpunk ala William Gibson for the 21st century meets the vivid dark futures of Al Reynolds in this extraordinary debut novel.
With Earth abandoned, humanity resides on Station, an industrialised asteroid run by the sentient corporations of the Pantheon. Under their leadership a war has been raging against the Totality - ex-Pantheon AIs gone rogue.
With the war over, Jack Forster and his sidekick Hugo Fist, a virtual ventriloquist's dummy tied to Jack's mind and created to destroy the Totality, have returned home.
Labelled a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, all Jack wants is to clear his name but when he discovers two old friends have died under suspicious circumstances he also wants answers. Soon he and Fist are embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not only their future but all of humanity's. But with Fist's software licence about to expire, taking Jack's life with it, can they bring down the real traitors before their time runs out?
Humankind is caught in the middle of a high-stakes war between competing AIs in this provocative cyberpunk space opera (a prequel to Waking Hell). The Pantheon, a group of powerful corporate AIs, schemes on Station, a space station in the asteroid belt. Seven years before, a terrorist attack started a brutal war between the Pantheon and a group of independent AIs called the Totality. Some members of the Totality were grown to inhabit human or android bodies, called puppets. Forensic auditor Jack Forster fought for the Pantheon but became disillusioned by a conflict in which humans were doing all the sacrificing and dying. Now the war is over, and Jack is back on Station with iconoclastic Hugo Fist, the last of the Totality puppets. Jack attempts to reconnect with old friends, learns they were murdered, and decides to investigate their deaths, which leads him into a widening spiral of complex plots. Robertson has created a well-developed future and a story full of action and intrigue, raising deep questions about the nature of intelligence, humanity, and personal freedom.
This novel has an underlying feel of a gritty private-eye or crime thriller. However, it is much more than that and coerces the reader to take the already alarmingly pervasive digital and economic environment we live in to a very credible future conclusion. It struck me how little I had to suspend my disbelief as reading this.
As a story of the future of artificial and real intelligence is at times harrowing and definitely dystopian but is offset by the outrageous humour of the co-protagonist Hugo Fist. The characterisation is multi dimensional and filled with complex emotions. A very well written, thought provoking and gripping novel.