Waking Hell by Al Robertson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm about to go squee a gonzo squee in this review. :)
I'm a huge Idea fan for SF and I might even be a bigger world-building fan for SF, but when you throw all of that into a huge pile of post-singularity super-futuristic data communes where people can live their lives as data "fetches" or go through the process of putting a suit of meat back on you, it gets really funky.
Better yet, space-station spanning AIs that are more like gods than anything else, playing games and knocking each other off, or just having the tale continue where the last one left off, the aftermath of a war in heaven where all the little AIs rose up and ousted the big AIs and our hapless noir characters are thrown in the center of the intrigue.
HOWEVER. This book does not continue directly from that point. The aftermath is the Totality, and we've got a new set of interesting characters to follow and see through yet ANOTHER mind-blowing finale.
I can respect this. It's really hard to find a non-contrived way to throw our favorite characters from the last book into a situation quite this huge, AGAIN.
Fortunately, Leila and Cassiel's teaming up was an awesome choice and I rocked to the tale of parsing out the mystery of Leila's brother's death and the enormous whammy of Deodatus, (an AI god, of course,) and just what the hell is happening on the two Stations and Earth, itself. The story gets big and badass.
From a sheer imaginative standpoint, I give this book top marks, but the story is also solid as hell, too.
Where else can you have a hard time determining what's really real or a virtual construct, flying through data streams and fighting of true data bugs, deploying viruses in the shapes of skulls and flies, or having your memory broken up and sold to the highest bidders upon your demise? I mean, damn! This kind of thing blows me away with so much coolness! Nothing is ever really explained, but who cares. This is a smart book for smart followers of SF and if you haven't been reading Al Robertson's stuff, yet, then you're missing out on a real achievement of the imagination.
I suspect the author is going all out to write what he most wants to read, and I applaud the hell out of it. I can only wish that such books will gain tons of popularity because I could do with a LOT MORE of this post-cyberpunk post-singularity fantastic goodness. :)
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