Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Chasing The Phoenix by Michael Swanwick

Apparently, Michael Swanwick spent some time in China - and he came back with this delightfully strange book.

The blurb did not appeal to me - if I didn't have a certain level of trust in the author, I might not have picked it up. If you haven't read Swanwick's work - trust me, it's far more interesting than the back cover makes it look.

It's post apocalyptic science fiction that reads like a fairy tale. The apocalypse in this case is rogue AIs taking over the internet and destroying what people fondly call Utopia. That said, they haven't gone all the way back to the Stone Age. Genetic engineering of both humans and animals is fairly routine, if expensive. Nanomedicine exists, but is rare. And it's set in China.

Ultimately, Chasing The Phoenix is a trickster story - and the tricksters concerned are a human con artist, Aubrey Darger and an uplifted, anthropomorphic dog, Surplus. Yes, I did say "uplifted, anthropomorphic dog." And the story is about how they deal with being pulled into the service of a completely insane king who intends to be emperor. Right before...well...the rest is spoilers.

Trickster tales are as old, likely, as humanity, and Swanwick doesn't really change the tale - the beauty of this book falls in the worldbuilding and Swanwick's unique and attractive voice. I highly recommend this book, especially for fans of Neil Gaiman.