In Gariffo’s sci-fi debut, a mysterious agent handles covert, sometimes-lethal jobs for one of the world-dominating corporations in the mid-21st century.
Agent Sliver’s clandestine work has become routine—even when it involves killing. His latest mission from World, Inc., in New Detroit is to shut down terrorists intent on attacking corporations such as Sliver’s employer. Within the last few decades, five supercorporations have saved the world from economic decline and, in the process, seized control from governments. While Sliver readily accepts assignments from his boss, Fellrock, he hopes his target will be Ancarn, CEO of a corporation called Multinational, though the agent is mum on the reason why. But change may be on the horizon. The typically unsentimental Sliver sympathizes with the daughter of targets he’s just eliminated. He takes Kelly aboard his airship but tells no one since she’s an anomaly (her genetics, for one, aren’t registered like everyone else’s). Complicating matters is a new mission that entails a high-profile assassination and someone’s discernible attempt to take out his ship—and Sliver as well. Luckily, the agent has allies, including the ship’s onboard computer he’s affectionately dubbed Franklin, for facing his would-be assassin. Gariffo painstakingly constructs a convincing near-future tale. The book’s highlight is a series of articles on the supercorporations’ gradual takeover (citizens further crippling the U.S. government by not paying income taxes is frighteningly plausible). The protagonist, meanwhile, is increasingly fascinating: Readers eventually learn his backstory with Ancarn and why Sliver habitually injects himself with Serum. Action scenes showcase Gariffo’s penchant for meticulous details: “Sliver swung the chair’s legs up into the face of the individual to his left and then threw the seat into the upper half of the flunky on his right.” Unfortunately, Kelly, the only significant female, is largely unexplored, from the impact of her family’s deaths to adjusting to a corporate-ruled world her parents kept hidden from her.
A dystopian tale both engaging and conceivable.