Void Star by Zachary Mason
  Book Reviews    September 23, 2017     Eric Larkin


Void Star is the kind of sci fi that makes you feel like how your great-grandpa would feel if you Facetimed the fam in Hong Kong, Grubhub’d a stack of calzones, then dimmed the lights and Netflix’d his fave John Ford movie – all on your smartphone. He’s just spinning like, What’s happening? Where are the wires?  

The story is hard to summarize without giving away some interesting epiphanies – and I might have missed a few points, exactly like the first time I watched Inception. This is an adventure wherein a few baffled strangers put what’s in their nearly empty pockets on a table to take on overwhelming wealth and fire-power. The future (maybe 100 years from now?) is a mess, but it’s not post-apocalyptic. Corporations of various types – often just profoundly wealthy individuals – wield a great deal of power, as do nations, which still exist – again, in various forms – but who have largely given up on things like image and ideology, and there are parts of the world that are just feral. Technology has developed to a point where, in some cases, it is literally beyond human control – not in a Terminator or Matrix sense, but like with the Facebook bots that started speaking in their own language: hey, they’re doing something that we didn’t teach them how to do. Of course, this comes in handy; you can end up with a computer or security system way better than you could ever design. And there are the enigmatic and ubiquitous drones: whether beat-up, flying, construction bots, constantly renovating the favelas which exist in every major city of the world or fleets of unmanned, stealth submarines that endlessly patrol from their secret mid-ocean bases. It’s the future, and it makes you feel like What’s happening? Where are the wires?  

Mason doesn’t limit himself to the zowie-bang of action sci-fi – though there’s plenty of that – but always takes the time to paint emotional portraits of the characters and their world and to ask huge questions like “What does it mean to exist?” The story even lingers with little epilogues after the main action is done. If Philip K Dick and William Gibson collaborated on Tron – with maybe a light dusting of hallucinogens – you might get something like Void Star. Obviously, you should read it.   


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