As a synthetic plague causes more and more humans to be implanted—“immunized”—with mind-control chips, ex-cop Jake “Jackhammer” Travissi, who survived his own digital zombification, fights the global conspiracy with his dwindling allies.
The middle volume in author Davison’s cyberpunk God Head trilogy, after State of Mind (2011), sees LA cop Jake Travissi returning to a fearfully warped civilization in 2035 after having taken a sabbatical when he was reluctantly implanted with a neurological Chip that gave him enhanced crime-fighting mojo, information access and altered perceptions. The Chip also made him and fellow lawmen susceptible to a conspiracy of “God Head” hackers, turning them into mind-controlled assassins. Through superhuman willpower, Jake cut his own Chip from his head in the last book, but he was still powerless to prevent the murders of those closest to him. Now, vacationing on the resort-continent Antarctica with his fiancee, Jake is plunged back into violence and techno-intrigues by the worldwide unleashing of a deadly, genetically modified virus called MaxWell. The only alleged defense against it is mandatory Chip implantation—rushed into practice by assorted world governments and the elite Consortium puppet masters behind them—that threatens to turn everyone into mindless “Pin Heads.” Vocal Christian and Muslim religious sects oppose the Chipping of humanity, yet evidence suggests that they may be heavily involved in terror plots against Travissi’s newfound allies, husband-and-wife Indian researchers seeking a MaxWell cure despite betrayals and impossible odds. Davison, also a screenwriter, writes on a broad canvas, with action hopping across hemispheres, corpses piling up in the millions and even nuclear weapons in play. Yet the Jackhammer (and his wonder dog, Lakshmi) stays as invulnerable as a Tom Cruise action hero, complete with six-pack abs—though there’s a potentially sinister explanation for his survival floated near the denouement. Amid the apocalyptic future-shock vibe of a desperate world engulfed by corrupt, out-of-control technological advances, Davison’s knack for crackerjack storytelling and dialogue holds the mayhem and melodrama together.
Though slightly programmed around action-blockbuster tropes, this harrowing cyber–pulp fiction brings the thrills.