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Iron Gods: Spin #2    by Andrew Bannister order for
Iron Gods
by Andrew Bannister
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2019 (2019)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Iron Gods is the second entry in Andrew Bannister's Spin trilogy that began with Creation Machine. The series is set in a vast, artificial galaxy, created by machines and artificial intelligences with abilities far beyond those of the humans who now inhabit the region.

Like the first episode, this one (which starts ten thousand years later) has a complicated, intricate plot, in which diverse strands weave together. In this era, the Inside's economy is based on horrific slavery, and is surrounded by rebel civilizations. The story is hard to get into at first, but ultimately engrossing and worth the effort.

One of the story strands follows the tribulations of Belbis the Painter, lowly member of an unpopular priesthood, who's treated brutally after he happens to be the one who observes 'the wrong number of Gods' in the sky. We don't meet poor Belbis again till late in the novel, when he manages to play a critical role.

Next we meet Seldyan, who leads a high tech slave rebellion from the Hive, where workers' lives have little value and working conditions are unbearable. She and her crew (including skilled hacker Merish) escape and hijack a luxury liner, which is much more than it seems. They rename it Suck on This, and Merish awakens its AI, that had been forcibly shut down for millennia.

Then there's Vess, who had managed to work his way out of poverty into an executive position on the Inside. He's sent into the Hive as a spy, with an extremely low chance of survival. Bannister brings these seemingly isolated story threads together after Seldyan's group joins the rebels and discovers that freedom is not what they had hoped.

Fortunately, Seldyan proves unstoppable, with Merish and a powerful AI at her back. Though hard at times to follow, Iron Gods is an outstanding work of imagination.

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