Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Glitch Rain by Alex Livingston

Cyberpunk has been a great genre that has fallen away as more of our lives feel like the real thing. The advantage Alex Livingston has over previous authors like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson is that he knows some of the terms that sound natural in the computer age like tweets, instagram, and vape pens. Glitch Rain adds another cool story to the genre and updates the language for the modern generation.

The story revolves around a similar protagonist from the classic, a wizened crook named Akuba who is tech savvy enough to make a paying customer disappear from their social media when they don't want to be spotted at an event. Akuba is a fun character to follow as she seeks to throw off a lifetime worth of debt to a childhood bully and now mob leader, controller of drones Shaky. Akuba is tough yet funny. Readers can enjoy reading about her as she runs after Gray Men, survives autodrive car chases, and fends off drones in crazy shootouts.

I've enjoyed Livingston writing since I first encountered it in Apex Magazine Issue 73 with a great story called Proximity. I would recommend checking it out. It's clear that Livingston has developed a complex world built like a garbage island on top of the old lore of cyberpunk with the modern vernacular tacked on top. I enjoyed how the author took the language making situations that used to be totally confusing and playing them out with our new technology. The narrative voice is hilarious at times, naming characters Ibuprofen and saying "prolly" instead of probably, and hints at what's in store for our language.

The plot is fast paced in this novella and I look forward to when the author gets a chance to flesh out his creativity in later novels. The pace just assumes a reader can catch up and since we now live in a similar world, it's not impossible. The setting feels believable and though this book flings us through scenes it is globe spanning and has a certain epic quality. The inclusion of drones bring the action to another level. Akuba's sidekick Isaac, who lives in a shipping container, is a great character to add to the plot. 

Glitch Rain is a great novella that shows promise for a clever new writer in the cyberpunk genre. I would recommend this to the reader on the go who catches chapters on the bus, at lunch, or in the middle of a car chase while shooting off a tweet. This book shows promise and I look forward to what Alex Livingston has to offer in the future!

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