PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Cyberpunk is a science fiction subgenre that never really went away. The heady combination of dystopia, information technology, noir style crime and an exploration of man’s innate distrust of new ideas have always had an appeal, even before the time we shoved such stories in a box and called it cyberpunk. The genre has only become more and more relevant other time, as these days everyone is connected to a web of electronic information via a little black box in their pockets.

Ren Warom’s Escapology adds a fresh and strong voice to the world of cyberpunk, and a very welcome on at that. The plot is pure cyberpunk deliciousness. Our protagonist, in the fine tradition of silly near-futuristic names, is called Shock Pao. He’s a Haunt, a sort of criminal who is very hard to locate using computers and also happens to be very good at hacking into information systems and stealing data for people. In the real world, Shock has no prospects; he’s a Fail, no qualifications, no references, nothing. A classic outsider. Which means he can’t turn down work, no matter how dangerous. Meanwhile, an assassin called Amiga is stuck in a no-win situation, and her job puts her on a collision course with Shock.

The pace is very, very fast and the world building is efficient and well thought out. Everything that we take for granted, including simple access to the Internet, is different and difficult in this world.  Warom builds her world from the character’s perspective first; we learn what it’s like to be a person in a post-apocalyptic, high-tech society.   She uses multiple perspectives to build this world, and at each level we feel something for the character. It’s a mix of personal touches and clever yet unusual choices that make this work so compelling.

One of the neat things about the writing is that Warom takes ideas that many still consider to be non-standard and simply considers them to be the new normal. This is a broken world, yet those in it don’t see it that way. Main characters take the oddness of this world in their stride and the whole thing as an organic, natural feel, even though some of the plot elements of beautifully odd.

At its core, Escapology is a novel about becoming something else, shedding the limitations of technology to grow and learn. Whilst at the same time being filled with action and adventure. If you love good cyberpunk, you will adore this.



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