Chasing the Phoenix: a science fiction masterpiece from a five-time Hugo Award winner Michael Swanwick!
In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems.
Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes. Chasing the Phoenix is a sharp, slick, witty science fiction adventure that is hugely entertaining from Michael Swanwick, one of the best SF writers alive.
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Hugo-winner Swanwick (Dancing with Bears) takes his longtime rogue heroes, Surplus and Darger, to postapocalyptic China in this intriguing chronicle of adventures. Once Surplus resurrects Darger with the help of the Infallible Physician, the pair and their newfound associate, Capable Servant, ingratiate themselves with the Hidden King and lead him throughout the warring provinces in search of the Phoenix Bride, a war machine from before the AI war. Taking the names Noble Dog Warrior and the Perfect Strategist, Surplus and Darger navigate the personalities of the Hidden King's court the mercenary bandit Fire Orchid, who decides that Surplus is her husband; the archaeologist White Squall, a secretive specialist in forbidden technology while attempting to keep their sterling reputations intact (at least for now) in the face of seemingly intractable situations. Swanwick deftly incorporates the literature and history of imperial China into the established post-technology world. The style may distance readers who are more used to stories of emotional development, but as Darger's schemes become more intricate, the intellectual puzzles keep interest right to the end.