Children of Athena by W. B. Wemyss

Children of Athena

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Set 1,000 years in the future, this post-apocalyptic tale predicts that a sentient, sapient computer will eventually save us from the malaise of day-to-day existence.

Wemyss immerses readers in a near-dystopian future in which mankind has ultimately succumbed to the seduction of Metaverse—a fully tactile virtual-reality experience. Life centers have shifted from Earth to the lunar surface, where a new Union of “gods” is charged with maintaining order. Mankind’s physical needs are served by Zee Prime, an artificial, omniscient intelligence, and individuals are essentially free to do whatever they can imagine—so long as they do no harm to others. Molecular engineering allows goods to be created at will, batteries control one’s metabolism, dragons are considered the perfect life form, and karma is the currency of the realm. Hurtful or reckless behavior is punished by karma loss and eventual “liquid” imprisonment. A council of greater gods oversees intelligent life, while laws are enforced by Conservator police who battle threats to humanity. Among the characters drawn from mythology, many are richly portrayed, each with surprising strengths and weaknesses. Ruler Thor’s granddaughter, Mote, recklessly flouts laws and is admonished by Hachiman, the chief Conservator. Considered a wizard, computer hacker Brittany stores commands that control the “fog” to create whatever humans materially desire. While imaginative and well-written, the ponderous story ambitiously reaches wide and far—sometimes too far. With such a vast mix of cultures, mythologies and advanced technologies, Wemyss might have served readers better if the story had begun with the information found in the appendix called Recovered Data, which would have more efficiently brought readers up to speed. Elsewhere, the story occasionally wanders into the mundane, as when the dog Zeus “humps” clubbers while they dance or when Ren and Britz talk food: “Vegan, Ren. I don’t eat meat or dairy.” Though Wemyss is a skilled, imaginative writer, the book lacks a strong story arc, and it’s often difficult to connect to the characters, who, for the most part, tend to be unsympathetic.

A dense, multifaceted story that will appeal to readers looking for a futuristic blend of sci-fi and mythology.

Pub Date: May 17th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615816722
Page count: 522pp
Publisher: Fractal Moon
Program: Kirkus Indie
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