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Hammerjack    by Marc D. Giller order for
by Marc D. Giller
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2005 (2005)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Marc Giller's debut novel, Hammerjack, is in the cyberpunk style, what I think of as mind over bitstream SF. It's set in a future society that's essentially at war with itself, with plenty of gory action, and the good guys stalked by a female Terminator called Avalon. The story opens as the dross of society, 'street species', are drawn to a disaster at the Works (erected as an R&D center by the Collective), in which an advanced AI named Lyssa is intimately involved. Corporate Special Services ruthlessly mop up afterwards. Opposing the Collective is a group called the Inru, whose goal is the destruction of modern technology, and the Ascension of mankind via genetic modification.

The story's hero, Cray Alden, has the usual mysterious origins and is reluctantly hunting a runner (an information smuggler) named Zoe for the Collective. After some thrilling action sequences, Zoe makes contact with Cray and he feels 'something like the sting of a wasp penetrating him.' Cray discovers she was carrying a new kind of virus that 'mutates the genetic code of the host cell'. Cray's boss in the Collective, Phao Yin (also the major villain of the piece), and the Collective Assembly assign him to investigate what happened at the Works. He's escorted by free agent (augmented for 'almost inhuman endurance') Avalon. En route to Cray's encounter with Lyssa, hammerjack Heretic makes secret contact with him.

What follows is a wild ride, with plenty of action, surprises, and betrayals. Phao Yin seeks personal power, no matter the cost, Avalon wants vengeance, and the good guys try to save humanity from the calamity its rival factions are accelerating it towards. Though I have to admit this is not my favorite SF sub-genre, and I found the story obscure at first, those who enjoy cyberpunk will love Hammerjack, and will soon be able to read a sequel, Prodigal.

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