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by S.B. Divya

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-9821-4806-5
Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster

Welga Ramirez thought she was done in the security field. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Welga is a shield—a bodyguard working for wealthy funders who develop pills to enhance human performance so people can compete with bots and AIs. It’s all theater. Fight with style and watch the tips roll in from the public watching via swarms of microcam drones. Welga is three months from the end of her contract when an attack on one of her clients actually turns deadly. Something called “the Machinehood” takes credit and gives humankind a week to stop producing pills, or else. Now Welga, along with the rest of the world, must race to answer the question: Is the Machinehood really the world’s first truly sentient AI? And if not, who’s threatening the entire world’s way of life—and why? Meanwhile, Welga’s having muscle spasms when she comes down from pills, which aren't supposed to have side effects. Can her biogeneticist sister-in-law, Nithya, figure out what’s going on before the spasms get worse? Divya has created a richly imagined and eerily familiar world filled with insecure workers cobbling together freelance gigs and families dependent on rapidly designed and home-manufactured vaccines to protect against new bugs. It’s a world without privacy, where every activity is performed for a crowd in hopes of getting tips—and a world confronting urgent questions about humans’ place in a society increasingly run by AIs. Simply taking a tour of this world is well worth the reader’s time, but Welga’s and Nithya’s quests also rocket the plot along toward an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion.

Intriguing worldbuilding plus a fast-paced plot equals catnip for SF fans.