"Virtuality is the new reality"
Within my online social circles, I have heard many amazing things about the writer Michael R. Fletcher. My peers were so influential that I decided to check out one of his books and I chose this one because of the completely stunning cover, the fact that it is a stand-alone novel and also the point that the description sounded amazing.
This book is set in 2046 in a horrifically advanced world that is scarily relatable to our current Earth and here, young children's brains are harvested and then sold on the black market, where they are sometimes purchased by the Mafia, trained and then turned into having to control enhanced mechanical beings. Imagine the combat suits from Edge of Tomorrow with no human (alive at least) needed, with the same spectacular qualities that they possessed and I think that is an apt summary. The blistering action of this novel is intense and the awesome book takes place over 7 days. In the third person, we infiltrate the minds of about 8 "people". The main characters are Griffin, a rookie US government agent, 88 an ingenious autistic child who enjoys creating mirrors and Archaeidae, a 14-year-old robotic assassin who wears a Chassis that gives him six limbs. Yes, enough limbs to walk, wield two guns and flaunt two samurai swords. He also looks amazing in a trench coat that Chow Yun-Fat would be proud of owning.
I have to admit that I haven't read much science-fiction recently but, I believe this could be admired and enjoyed by fantasy and maybe "grim-dark" readers also. It has a great mix of emotion (surprising when a majority of the characters are robots, especially Abdul commenting on the point of existence after "death"), deaths and brutal set-pieces. Although I noticed a few grammatical errors, it is amazingly well written and Fletcher definitely knows his way around the Oxford Dictionary to create amazing prose. This isn't science-fiction in an out of space sort of presentation, it is how, seriously, the world could be in 30 years.
This is the revamped edition of Fletcher's book 88 and the story is so good, I might read that one like the completist I am just to see the differences. Some of the language used confused me here and there, very scientific-seeming of course but that is probably my silliness and not a negative to the story. At one point a character who I thought was female became male which knocked me off balance for a little while (robots, eh?) but the reason was explained a few chapters later which made me nod my head and think, cool.
Ghosts of Tomorrow is pretty damn awesome. I know a lot of the main bloggers and sites rave about Fletcher's work and now I have finished this, I can 100% see why. It is gritty, brutal, amazingly well written and also a scarily possible view on where our future could be going towards. If you could live forever as a robot, would you? I will check out Beyond Redemption very soon as my friend advised me that this book is in the greatest series he has read after Malazan. To me, and many of my fantasy book reading friends, that is a huge statement. I hope it is true.
Review by James Tivendale
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