In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels across Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Yagodo at his side—and in mortal danger—as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.
Fujii's debut postulates a near-future, post-Internet world in which "augmented reality" has taken the place of in-person interactions. At the same time, overpopulation has caused a collapse in traditional agriculture, and only genetically modified crops can provide enough food. When a blight known as red rust infects a modified rice culture that Mamoru Hayashida helped create, he is given a DNA file that's much more complex than it should be. He must leave the comforts of his own computer-generated surroundings and travel to Ho Chi Minh City to work with Isamu Yagodo, a salvager who can help him unravel the red rust mystery. Fujii builds a new kind of cyberpunk novel that's well grounded in the physical world and modern computing. The extrapolations of new technology and the increasing strain on resources both come across as natural continuations of the modern world. Hubbert's translation is easy to read, though some of the more technical explanations can bog down a little, and Anglophone readers will be pleased to encounter this promising new author.