A cerebral fusion of science fiction, mystery, and apocalyptic thriller—masterfully seasoned throughout with provocative social commentary—this intricately plotted, if sometimes cumbersome, novel from Beckett (a pseudonym for the critically acclaimed Canadian writer A.M. Dellamonica) offers up a disturbingly believable glimpse into humankind’s near future.
Set in the year 2101, in a world devastated by economic and ecological collapse (thanks in part to an American president known as He Who Could Not Be Named), the story largely revolves around Cherub “Rubi” Whiting, an internationally famous virtual reality gamer and fledgling lawyer. Her current client is Luciano Pox, an accused online terrorist who could be a mastermind hacker, a malware-infested AI, an elderly human who has somehow uploaded their consciousness, or an alien scout trying to destabilize humankind before the coming of a massive invasion fleet. Meeting with the elusive Pox proves dangerous for Whiting, who must also deal with an ongoing VR feud with archenemy (and possible love interest) Gimlet Barnes as well as an infamous father who has embarked on a quest to find the mythical sanctuary of a group of billionaires who disappeared decades earlier as the world’s economy was collapsing. The mystery behind Pox’s identity is the obvious narrative accelerant, but the story’s real fuel comes from the author’s placement of backstory breadcrumbs throughout the novel. There is a lot to digest here, from humankind’s obsession with social media and their almost full immersion in cyber-reality to the brutal consequences of global warming to life extension advances to the mass consumption of printed protein as one of the only viable food sources left. A thought-provoking cautionary tale that will, hopefully, compel readers to see the condition of our civilization and our planet with more clarity and understanding.
A visionary glimpse into the future—the narrative equivalent of a baseball bat to the skull.