Friday, 23 January 2015

World of Fire by James Lovegrove / review by Stephen Theaker

Dev Harmer has a new body, not for the first time: this one is heavyset and muscular, with nocturnal vision and hyper-efficient thermoregulation. Dev is a troubleshooter, sent by Interstellar Security Solutions wherever needed to combat the sneaky attacks of the machines. The overt war is over, but the covert one continues, as atheist Earth battles the religious AIs of Polis+ for control of vital resources. Dev died in that war, but his consciousness was saved and now this is his life, hopping from one body to another in hopes of eventually earning a new one to call his own.

This time Dev has been sent to Calder’s Edge, a sweltering hot mining colony on Alighieri – hence the body modifications – and as soon as he arrives someone tries to blow him up. From then on it’s one thrill after another as he tries to uncover the cause of the earthquakes that are making the miners and colonists think about leaving for safer working environments. There are giant man-eating worms, brainwashed scientists, runaway trains and a local chief of police, Captain Kahlo, who won’t give him the time of day till he proves he’s not just another one of her problems.

I read this on holiday and it was perfect for kicking back. It’s something of a throwback to the likes of Dumarest and James Bond, where a tough dude gets chucked into a tough new situation and fights his way out of it, albeit with a more enlightened approach to its female characters. I’m guessing a story arc will develop over the series (as it did in Dumarest), but if in the unlikely event I never read another of Dev’s adventures this one was completely satisfying on its own.  ****

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