Glowing red lines split their faces. Shock-red hair and clothes warn people to flee their approach. They are plague birds, the powerful merging of humans and artificial intelligences who serve as judges and executioners after the collapse of civilization. And the plague birds’ judgment is swift and deadly, as Crista discovered as a child when she watched one kill her mother.
In a world of gene-modded humans constantly watched over by benevolent AIs, everyone hates and fears the plague birds. But to save her father and home village, Crista becomes the very creature she fears the most. And her first task as a plague bird is hunting down an ancient group of murderers wielding magic-like powers.
As Crista and her AI symbiote travel farther from home than she ever imagined, they are plunged into a strange world where she judges wrongdoers, befriends other outcasts, and uncovers an extremely personal conspiracy that threatens the lives of millions.
Plague Birds is a genre-bending mix of science fiction and dark fantasy and the epic story of a young woman who becomes one of the future’s most hated creatures, with a killer AI bonded to her very blood.
This head-scratchingly loopy novel from Sanford (Heaven's Touch) begins thousands of years after human civilization collapsed due to contamination with brute animal genes. Now most people are too dangerous to live together and must stay in separate, small settlements protected by AIs. Lawbreakers are punished by roving individuals called plague birds who share their bodies with blood AIs that threaten to erupt into horrendous violence at any moment. When one plague bird is fatally wounded in an encounter with a superpowered, dimension-spanning man named Ashdyd, young villager Christina de Ane is forced to take over the role. She and the cranky blood AI Red Day set off in pursuit of Ashdyd and his followers, the Veil, while also seeking Seed, the wonderful living city described by Christina's mother. Along the way, they pick up some odd companions, among them Diver, an apparently immortal little girl who may have the power to destroy the world. The characters fear rightly that they're constantly being manipulated by competing superhuman forces, and the mass of ingenious complications sometimes squeezes the life out of the story. The resulting tale isn't for everyone, but those who imagine something like The Wizard of Oz as retold by A.E. van Vogt sounds like a good time should take note.