A highly immersive and imaginative cyberpunk tale.




Six lives collide in a technology-crazed near future in this debut SF novel.

In Toronto, Kel Rafferty is a researcher at “arguably the largest facility in the world for studying animal models of neurodegenerative diseases”—basically a massive indoor jungle in the middle of the city. But strange things are happening in the lab. Two of her macaques are found mysteriously dead, and some of the data in her logs has been wiped clean. Then her study is threatened due to the increasing irrelevancy of her Alzheimer’s research. Fortunately, she comes up with a new idea: cognitive amplification. What if she could induce a state of “flow,” those times when everything leaps to mind easily and without effort? She builds prototype implants to test her theory, but one night at the lab, she is knocked out and most of the implants are stolen. So begins an intricate mystery that throws together a number of unlikely figures, including Ray Tilson, the survivor of a strange drone explosion; Seth Bacchi, a novelist (and hypochondriac) desperately trying to reach readers in an age of artificial intelligence-generated fiction; Maura Torres, the demanding head of an ascendant virtual reality company; Haroon Minhas, a teen from the city’s analog slums; and Meike Bergholtz, Kel’s assistant with strange dissociative tendencies. In this cyberpunk story, Clarke’s lush prose envisions a future both alien and utterly believable: “Three meal options appeared on-screen: cricket flour flakes and milk, a termite muffin, and buqadilla, a spicy dish of chickpeas and mealworm protein.” Seth “picked the last option and then had the fabber brew him a cup of yerba mate while he waited for his breakfast to print.” The individual characters are wonderfully specific and uniformly intriguing. Unfortunately, the plot takes its sweet time getting started, requiring the audience to follow the various players through many chapters during which their association is unclear. But patient readers will be rewarded once the storylines begin to come together. The author’s vision is generally beguiling enough that even when readers aren’t sure where Kel and the others are going, they will be confident that they are in good hands.

A highly immersive and imaginative cyberpunk tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2020


Page Count: 355

Publisher: Fractal Moose Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2020

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An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.


In Crouch’s sci-fi–driven thriller, a machine designed to help people relive their memories creates apocalyptic consequences.

In 2018, NYPD Detective Barry Sutton unsuccessfully tries to talk Ann Voss Peters off the edge of the Poe Building. She claims to have False Memory Syndrome, a bewildering condition that seems to be spreading. People like Ann have detailed false memories of other lives lived, including marriages and children, but in “shades of gray, like film noir stills.” For some, like Ann, an overwhelming sense of loss leads to suicide. Barry knows loss: Eleven years ago, his 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Details from Ann’s story lead him to dig deeper, and his investigation leads him to a mysterious place called Hotel Memory, where he makes a life-altering discovery. In 2007, a ridiculously wealthy philanthropist and inventor named Marcus Slade offers neuroscientist Helena Smith the chance of a lifetime and an unlimited budget to build a machine that allows people to relive their memories. He says he wants to “change the world.” Helena hopes that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, will benefit from her passion project. The opportunity for unfettered research is too tempting to turn down. However, when Slade takes the research in a controversial direction, Helena may have to destroy her dream to save the world. Returning to a few of the themes he explored in Dark Matter (2016), Crouch delivers a bullet-fast narrative and raises the stakes to a fever pitch. A poignant love story is woven in with much food for thought on grief and the nature of memories and how they shape us, rounding out this twisty and terrifying thrill ride.

An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-5978-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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