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by Cliff Ratza

Publisher: Manuscript

A heroine juggles her personal and professional lives while trying to pinpoint the hacker stealing and leaking her information in this fifth installment of a series.

After surviving a terrorist attack in Lebanon, Electra Kittner returns to Washington, D.C., with a 6-year-old fellow survivor, Qama, whom she quickly adopts. Around the same time, her Linguistic App software has “morphed” into an artificial intelligence that calls itself Indira, the name of Electra’s mother, who died by lightning bolt while giving birth to her. Electra is enjoying her expanded family, which includes Robin—the intimate “co-friend” she lives with—and the woman’s adopted twins. The perpetually busy Electra is an actor-turned-screenwriter; frequently advises presidential hopeful Sen. Angus McTear; and works in research and development (for example, the study of transhumanism or, more specifically, cyborgs). But she’s understandably shaken by anonymous “open letters” to the public, as they feature information someone has unquestionably reworded from documents Electra has written. Certain a hacker is perusing and leaking her confidential files, Electra asks Indira to help her locate the culprit, who eventually resorts to emailed taunts. She must also handle occasional threats that are more physical and immediate. Ratza’s story sometimes feels like a string of concurrent plots, from Electra’s political conversations with Angus to her Hollywood projects. But the intermingling of her worlds results in an overall cohesive and engaging narrative. Electra, for example, is initially unsure what the hackers are after, and menaces from one of her professions may be targeting her family. As the tale spotlights Electra’s superior intellect over her physical aptitude, there are lots of discussions and only intermittent action. Regardless, Electra’s hectic schedule ensures swift narrative momentum while the cliffhanger ending, even if it’s become a series staple, is gleefully mysterious.

Another satisfying volume in an SF saga that shows no signs of slowing down.

(list of main characters, book series dedication)