Wednesday 9 November 2011

[Review] Shadow of a Dead Star

I first encountered Michael Shean on Twitter, and after several jolly conversations, decided that I'd check out his blog. I did so, to discover he had a book for sale (this is why you should engage me in conversation - it makes me much more interested in what you're actually working on). Shadow of a Dead Star is the first book in his Wonderland cycle, in a genre I can only describe as cyberpunk sci-fi noir.

Set in Seattle in 2078, Shadow of a Dead Star follows Industrial Security Bureau agent Thomas Walken. Walken is the grizzled, cynical hero who fights to keep black-market technology from making its way into the mainstream. When he intercepts a smuggled shipment of little girls hardwired as sex toys, he finds himself tumbling down the rabbit hole into a nightmarish world of synthetic humans, hard-talking hackers and the kind of technology you thought only existed in Blade Runner.

Surrounded by conspiracies and caught on the run between three sectors of Seattle, each as brutal as the other but in completely different ways, Walken's resolve, abilities and strength are severely tested. He's not entirely on his own as his world crumbles around him - fate sends him Bobbi, a sparky young hacker with a sharp tongue and impressive tech skills. Question is, can Walken and Bobbi get to the bottom of the madness before a termination order is put on the Agent?

Science fiction is a genre I enjoy watching at the cinema but it's not usually a genre that I'd read. Luckily for me, Shadow of a Dead Star reads more like a gritty noir that just happens to feature cool technology and sci-fi ideas. It's testament to Shean's skill that everything seems completely plausible - and that I stayed up way too late to finish it, deciding I couldn't possibly put it down and pick it up the following day. It's an engaging read, full of complex characters, and bursting with invention. Whether you like sci fi, noir or cyberpunk, I'd highly recommend it.

NOTE: I've removed the Buy links since the book will be re-published later in the year by Michael's new publisher! In the meantime, Michael is also running a new serial over on Curiosity Quills. The first instalment is here!


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