Crash­ing Heaven

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Master of pup­pets

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

368 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Al Robert­son Pub­lisher: Gol­lancz

Cy­ber­punk fic­tion

in­vari­ably brings with it plenty of ex­pec­ta­tions – data crime, weird tech, a noir- ish tone – but “foul­mouthed AI ven­tril­o­quist’s dum­mies” isn’t gen­er­ally on the list. They’re among some of the off­beat plea­sures that de­but nov­el­ist Al Robert­son serves up in Crash­ing Heaven, a stylish blend of techno thriller and hard SF.

It’s the story of Jack Forster, a man who fought on the los­ing side of a war be­tween AIs and has re­turned to Sta­tion, an as­ter­oid­con­structed habi­tat or­bit­ing a dev­as­tated Earth. Jack’s mind is per­ma­nently linked with a “pup­pet” AI named Hugo Fist, a vir­tual ven­tril­o­quist’s dummy who’ll soon be tak­ing pos­ses­sion of Jack’s body thanks to a dodgy soft­ware li­cence. But while Jack only has lim­ited time left, he and Fist are dragged into a mys­tery that’s linked with the god- like AIs who now rule hu­man­ity…

In amongst the plot’s twists and turns, Robert­son pulls off evoca­tive prose and some imag­i­na­tive an­gles on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the hu­man and dig­i­tal worlds. The open­ing of the book is a lit­tle rocky, over­do­ing the noir ro­man­ti­cism and Fist’s sweary wise­cracks, but it gains con­fi­dence as it pro­gresses, build­ing to­wards an ef­fec­tive and im­pact­ful cli­max. Crash­ing Heaven doesn’t quite reach the heights of mind­ben­ders like Al­tered Car­bon or The Quan­tum Thief, but it’s still a sat­is­fy­ing widescreen ad­ven­ture for those who like their SF with a darker edge. Saxon Bul­lock Robert­son is part of a band who “cre­ate sound­scapes where new weird elec­tron­ica meets deep- lis­ten­ing Love­craftian delir­ium.”

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