In McCloskey’s (Slave of Chu Kutall, 2005, etc.) latest sci-fi novel, a sexy corporate spy, a rising executive and an intergalactic law enforcer intertwine in a conspiracy that rocks the deep-space outposts of tomorrow.
This wiry, high-tech military sci-fi novel set in an intrigue-ridden future kicks off a trilogy in which Earth is divided between its Eastern and Western Hemispheres. When ambitious executive Chris is accepted into the faraway sanctum of Vineaux Genomix, he finds that everyone must don identity-concealing (and perception altering?) full-body armor. Aldriena, a seductive Japanese-Brazilian corporate spy, infiltrates VG as part of her employer’s Project Insidious, initiated to seize the competitor’s secrets. United Nations Space Force operative Bren wields military might in bringing rogue mega-corporations to heel. The UNSF goes on alert when Bren’s task force of mighty warrior-robots meets ferocious, unexpected resistance in a raid on a mega-corporate space station. There’s an alphabet soup of acronyms and techno-jargon, and the plot’s MacGuffin is one of the oldest tropes in science fiction. But limber storytelling and description make the novel a grand yarn. Readers will be drawn to the particularly compelling portrayal of the ASSAILs, the UNSF’s synthetic fighters, whose artificial intellects are so advanced that, once online long enough, they tend to decide humans are unworthy masters. To complete the mission, the ASSAILs must be powered down and reformatted within hours, lest an extinction-level robot uprising erupt—potentially more dangerous than the original enemy. Small inside jokes referencing Heinlein and Lovecraft don’t detract from the action. A sudden ending baits and hooks readers for the next books in the author’s Synchroncity series, which will cover the same narrative territory from different viewpoints, like bits of Stephen Donaldson’s Gap series.
Weapons-laden action, corporate nastiness, incipient robot rebellion and deep-space mystery mesh nimbly in a great ride for sci-fi fans that seldom lets up.