Rehor’s debut is a gonzo sci-fi comedy about a near-future world of corporate stranglehold where a programmer trying to escape his past may threaten the future.
When readers first meet Billy Glover, he’s pointing a gun at his dad—and his week only goes downhill from there. That near-patricide turns out to be Billy’s memory, and remembrances of his late dad’s abuse still haunt him in real life. (For example, his dad once gave him a “reverse surprise birthday party,” in which he was promised a celebration but instead ended up raking leaves.) Billy hasn’t fallen far from the tree, though: whereas his dad first worked in psyops for the government during World War II and then developed a new character for Disney, Billy is working on an entertainment system that will allow people to experience real or synthetic memories—the iRemember. He needs the job, as his other options include grim “work camps” for the unemployed or the prospect of joining the terrorist Linux Underground. But when he starts finding copies of one of his childhood drawings around the office, he realizes that he may have more to worry about—including a possibly malfunctioning artificial intelligence. This plot description might make the novel sound like a taut techno-thriller, but Rehor manages something even more impressive here: a hilarious, satirical look at the modern world that deftly balances ridiculous events with some exploration of Billy’s character. Billy may be surrounded by networked appliances—even the coffee maker has a limited AI—but that fact merely emphasizes his sincere isolation, and he remains engaging no matter what’s going on in the near-surreal world around him. There’s a faintly Philip K. Dick-ian sense of paranoiac uncertainty mixed in with Billy’s struggles, but there’s still a lot of laughs as well.
A satire with hilarious leaps of imagination and a solid core of societal engagement.