Artificial Evil by Colin F. Barnes

Gerry has won the lottery. That shouldn’t be possible given that he was the writer of the algorithm that chooses the winners. Unfortunately for him the prize is less monetary and more Logan’s Run type death sentence. Gerry gets saved by a couple of Techxorcists called Gabe and Petal. Of course the term save turns out to be a little bit strong as Gerry jumps from the frying pan in to the volcano. There is a lot more at stake than just his own health.

My love of Cyberpunk goes back to my earliest days on the Net reading Usenet group fiction. I always get excited about new Cyberpunk novels but unfortunately most of them seem to lack something. I had already read the first few chapters of this novel and was itching to find out what happened next.

Getting the balance between technical computer terms that add realism and making a book readable for a layperson is not an easy task but this book does a good job of including just enough not to put off people that have worked in IT all their lives and at the same time not getting bogged down in technicalities. There are themes and characters in this book that I could liken to some really great stories such as Burning Chrome, The Matrix and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep without being a simple re-hash. I felt connected to several of the characters but by far my favourite was Gabe. In my head Gabe is like Maxim from The Prodigy in both tone and ability to captivate people with his powerful voice.

Although this book has an ending there are enough unanswered questions to make a reader want to read the second novel in this series. In particular I want to know what happens to Gabe. I think this book is ahead of the curve. With the film release of Gibson’s Neuromancer on the horizon I can see the number of Cyberpunk stories released increasing substantially over the next year. If they are all as good as this one then I am in for a good year.

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