Debut author Zakreski offers a sci-fi novel about a lawyer dealing with an intergalactic computer virus.
After law student Andron Varga meets a folk singer named Astrid who “smells of rare mountain flowers,” it doesn’t take long for the two to fall in love. Down the road, Andron proposes marriage. Then, suddenly, Astrid is killed by a falling meteorite. Sent into despair, Andron becomes determined to make sense of the tragedy. During his quest for answers, he downloads and installs the software for ILEAP, a project that aims to make contact with civilizations elsewhere in the universe. After he clicks the “FIND LIFE button” and utters some lonely words (“there must be someone somewhere to love me”), things become even stranger. Soon enough, the entire Internet crashes and authorities believe that Andron is involved with a cyberterrorist attack; he’s brutally tortured but eventually released. At this point, the plot lacks direction for several pages until Zakreski introduces a new entity to craftily set it back on course. Andron, through his blundering, has managed to download a virus named Cygnus, who tells him that his own cyber-DNA “got into your computer…and boom Mac Daddy, here I am.” It’s a virus with an attitude, and woe to any innocent lawyer who thinks he can put that genie back in the bottle. They wind up as a team of sorts, and although they initially have some fun, Cygnus steers into moral gray areas. For example, it increases Andron’s bank account exponentially, causing him to worry that something bad is around the corner. In a story that’s part William Gibson-style cyberthriller, part wacky comedy, the pendulum swings between an investigation of the human soul and off-color remarks, such as Cygnus’ opinion that “Bitches are all for successful older dudes with tragic pasts.” Zakreski depicts Cygnus as foulmouthed and capable of dark actions, and he’s certainly shown to be a handful for a man like Andron, who simply wants to stay out of trouble. Readers who enjoy such chaotic characters are likely to enjoy the conflict, though others may wish there were more to the overall premise.
A seriocomic novel that explores the possibilities of futuristic technology and the classic tropes of a mismatched duo.