In Speegle’s (Pen and Platen, 2011) novel set in a fantastic future world, technologically enhanced craftsmen face a deadly new threat.
As the story opens, a young man named Gregor loses his home, his best friend and very nearly his life in the hinterlands at the fringe of the Tech Republic. He and his friend Anatoly are skilled “Artificers” who use small, handheld computers to tap into a “Feed” of neutral matter, which they electronically resequence to create things to suit their needs. But their skills don’t protect them when they’re attacked by Frontmen—soulless, interchangeable minions of an all-devouring malevolence called SILOS. Gregor’s life is only saved thanks to the appearance of a woman named Ros, who hails from another dystopian enclave: the musicians’ haven called State of Play. Ros uses technology and her considerable fighting skills to rescue Gregor and take him on her quest to fight SILOS by enlisting the aid of yet another enclave, the Writers’ Bloc. There, the people prize the written word above all else, and a text called the Book may hold the key to victory. Along the way, Gregor and Ros squabble (at one point, he sarcastically calls her “Ros the Unnecessarily Taciturn”), but she gradually fills him in on the perilous state of the world outside the Tech Republic, her own past and training in the State, and the rise of the evil quagmire of SILOS. The author conveys most of this information in prolonged flashback segments, which he handles with a great deal of skill. The technology in Speegle’s world has morphed and sharpened into something akin to magic, and the Tech Republic, in particular, is impeccably imagined. He also makes the various sects’ worldviews believably distinct. Overall, his crafting of his characters is sensitive and, at times, winningly funny.
A hugely entertaining techno-magic adventure novel.