Al Robertson’s debut novel is a disturbing yet engrossing vision of a cyberpunk-flavoured future, full of sordid characters and bleak emotions, wrapped up in a desolate tale of murder and treachery. Crashing Heaven follows Jack Forster, a former fighter for the Pantheon, a cluster of sentient corporations formerly at war with the rogue AI’s of the Totality. Now that the war has ended, Jack is keen to uncover the truth behind the death of his lover, even if it means stirring up old grudges from both sides. Armed with his menacing AI puppet Hugo Fist, Jack has just weeks to find out the truth before Fist is able to claim Jack’s body for himself, killing Jack in the process.
Robertson has pieced together a book not without humour, but still a fairly morose read that strikes a deft balance between crafting a true sense of the horrific world Jack is lost in with the character-driven nature of the story itself. Within those characters are the darkest of emotions, and Robertson wrenches them out, engulfing Crashing Heaven with an atmosphere that’s drenched in an inescapable darkness, but makes for riveting reading.
Through all of its confident execution and engaging narrative, Crashing Heaven has a desperate feel to it. It feels that way because its story has such a finely crafted feel to it, and yet the nagging reminder of Jack’s impending doom casts an effective downpour on the book, making it all the more fun to read. Crashing Heaven takes familiar concepts and blasts fresh life into them, but it’s a life that paints a vivid picture of the deadly underbelly of war and love. A spellbindingly rugged addition to cyberpunk and science fiction literature in general.
CRASHING HEAVEN / AUTHOR: AL ROBERTSON / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (HARDCOVER), MAY 12TH (PAPERBACK)