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Even if Britisher Aylett doesn’t use William Burroughs’s ruse of cutting pages lengthwise and joining mismatched halves, his first book to be published here remains a baffling exercise in virtual reality storytelling, nearly as hallucinatory as Burroughs’ work. Dante Cubit and the Entropy Kid rob a bank for which digital prankster Download Jones sold them the virtual-reality schematic so that they could plan every move. But Download’s schematic simulation turns out to be for the wrong building, as Dante and the Kid find out in the middle of their hold-up. Using an altered keychip (card swiper), Dante throws himself 20 minutes into the past and into the bank’s vault. When Dante Two comes out of the vault, Dante One blows him away and so leaves “himself” (or his time-clone) behind as legally dead and Dante One thus beyond the law. Meanwhile, a contagion of squad cars bearing the bumbling racists Chief Henry Blince and Benny the Trooper arrives; Blince likes to make the crime fit the punishment and carries a Colt Demographic with a nine-inch barrel that can be set for age, color, and wage bracket. Dante wonders whether the heist has actually happened or just been portrayed or simulated in a sim crime environment. Should he and the Kid already be prisoners, Danny knows that a VR hive jail “ran the same twenty-four hours on a loop and that there was a burst of static at the reset. Anyone killed was resurrected. Anything damaged was restored. Like a kid’s game.” But then Dante Two returns, and. . . . With brains reeling, many VR junkies will offer plea bargains to avoid fizzing incoherently into the floormatter. Droll, convoluted gamesmanship. (First serial to Bomb Magazine & New York Press)

Pub Date: March 16th, 1998
ISBN: 1-56858-103-3
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998