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by Cody Sisco

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2024
ISBN: 9781953954077
Publisher: Self

In Sisco’s speculative novel, a young man who wants to find his grandfather’s killer is deemed a threat due to his mental illness.

Several years ago, in an alternate history set in the “American Union of Nations,” a man with a mental illness known as Mirror Resonance Syndrome (MRS) killed people in an act of chaos and extreme violence in the town of Carmichael. In the incident’s aftermath came the Carmichael edicts, which have since subjugated those with MRS (sufferers are hyper-emotional and prone to daydreaming and periods of mental blankness) to being treated as less than human, looked at with suspicion, and forced to live on “ranches” they can never leave. Despite being part of the famous Eastmore family (his grandfather, Jefferson Eastmore, cured cancer), Victor has effectively had his life stolen from him due to his MRS diagnosis. Jefferson died recently, and Victor believes he was murdered—maybe even assassinated—and he wants to find who was responsible. Victor’s mental illness may be the key to the mystery; his friend Ozie tells him that Jefferson was trying to challenge the status quo for the treatment of those with MRS (he wanted to find a cure), a position that’s widely considered radical and may have made him some enemies. The country is also beset by the rise of addiction to drugs known as stims, which have had serious, ongoing consequences for people like Victor’s friend Elena (“She could tell him about the flood of stims the Corps had unleashed to hook as many people as possible”) and, by extension, Victor himself. Sisco has created an immersive cyberpunk world as the setting for an elaborate murder mystery and conspiracy thriller; the copious amount of worldbuilding detail is truly impressive. Victor is a relatable hero with eclectic friends in Ozie and Elena (as well as an herbalist, Pearl, who aids him in dealing with the symptoms of his condition). The world and the characters work together to effectively form a cohesive story about how easy it is for society to classify a group of people as dangerous outsiders.

A fantastic SF thriller with a sincere and important message.