Waking Hell by Al Robertson

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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I’m getting seriously impressed by Mr. Robertson; Waking Hell is only his second book and yet it is written with bags of confidence making it so easy to read you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Set some years after Robertson’s first book, Crashing Heaven, fetches (virtual recreations of a dead person) now have full citizens’ rights but all is not well on the Station. Leila Fenech has died twice and now her brother, Dieter, has also died and, so it seems, has sold his soul, or at least his fetch, to a decidedly dodgy looking organisation and Leila is determined to get him back. In the process she uncovers a conspiracy far more important than her brother’s future but her brother is really all she wants to be concerned with. Though set in the same world as Crashing Heaven it is not essential to have read that first; the story is completely unrelated and the characters of the earlier novel only appear as largely unrelated references. Nevertheless reading Crashing Heaven first will probably help provide solid context for this second story.

The setting would probably be described as post-cyberpunk, though I found myself thinking of it more as Cyberpunk that’s grown up. Cyberpunk was full of drugs, high tech, implants, virtual reality, with lots of anger, violence and a generally frenetic pace with invented slang and tech terms hammering the poor reader mercilessly. Waking Hell still has high tech, drugs and implants but they are much less in your face. Everything seems to have calmed down making it a much less harrowing experience for the reader. It’s like the teenage cyberpunk always seemed to be trying to boastfully impress the reader with how hip it is whilst this calmer post-cyberpunk is more mature and more confident in its high tech world. And, in my opinion and despite how much I have loved reading cyberpunk, is all the better for it. The book is still fast paced with plenty of excitement and action but it gives more time to developing the characters rather than focusing exclusively on developing the tech.

I loved the book and can’t wait to see what Robertson can come up with next.

4/5 stars
 
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