Noah “Comet” Wu is back from a long deployment in a war zone and is looking forwards to some pleasant down-time.
Except his best friend JT has gone missing and he has to track him down. And the best lead he has is Buzz, hacker, possible - likely - criminal.
But he’s not the only one on the trail - violent, dangerous assassins are also following the lead. And there’s nothing like a constant fight for survival to increase sexual tension
This dystopian, high sci-fi, magical world setting all comes together in a Shadowrun-esque series that I have never seen to this degree. The combination of super futuristic technology - facing down a cyborg who is nearly immune to bullets and can control military-level robots and a fleet of cars remotely through the power of wireless networks. But at the same time you have a wizard walking around throwing fireballs around who needs to be fought with metaphors. And a complete wasteland still recovering from the fallout of an apocalyptic war is being healed by druids… but always with that edge. Like those druids? Are not restoring the forests by hugging rocks and playing with herbs. And we have references to things like the “second zombie apocalypse” which I’d love to know about.
I really like how cyberspace is presented here. In this ultra-technological setting cyberspace is an essential realm, a place where you do battle, a place of incredible power and potential that spills over into the real world. I like both the abstract description of things while, at the same time, resisting the urge to turn it into a tron-like alternate dimension which the characters run around in. But at the same time I love how real it is, with technology advanced to such a degree that there are people who never leave it - and there are people who experience everything through simulations on the internet which are not just visual but touch every sense. It’s both alien but grounded and every bit a real battleground. All made more real and poignant with Buzz‘s history and facing the very real choice of humans who have completely checked out of modern society.
Through the technology and the magic - and wizards and orcs and so much else - we also have a very nicely touched on world setting of chaos. The part I like about this is how elegantly it’s presented. We have mentions of different countries (including several which are clearly part of what was once the former United States), but no-one has to sit down and talk us through the disasters that struck or explain how the world works now because we see it. We see it because Comet is a mercenary who has fought in many many wars, telling us the state of the world. We see it because they pass through vast wildernesses where monsters roam which have clearly been abandoned. We see it because of the very limited presence of the police or authorities, especially when major powers clash. We see it because we have these huge quasi-legal and outright criminal organisations with vast powers, influence and the ability to act with impunity. We even see it in little things, like the high end car having a tracker in it so if it’s stolen the company that makes them can respond with over the top violence.