Author: Ted Cross
Price: $3.99 (ebook) / $12.59 (paperback)
Publisher: Breakwater Harbor Books
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
I was attracted to this book by two things. First, Ted Cross, the author, has spent serious time in Moscow, where the story is set, and currently resides in lovely Baku, Azerbaijan. Second, just look at that cover! It’s from Stephan Martiniere, one of the premier SF illustrators.
Fortunately, The Immortality Game lives up to its cover. Set primarily in Moscow in the summer of 2138, the book is the story of Zoya and Marcus. Zoya is a Russian teenager, who by accident comes in possession of some military cyber-ware. Marcus is a twenty-something American and former addict of “The Mesh,” an all-consuming virtual reality place.
Marcus is also being led around by his “dad” – or rather an AI construct that has his dad’s memories and personalities. Marcus’s dad thinks that Zoya’s cyber-ware, or rather the folks that made it, can be used to download him into a real body. Alas, said Russian cyber-tech is valuable, and the Russian mob wants it. Also, the world of 2138 is a radically different place, with what’s left of America being ruled by the Mormon Church.
This basic setup leads to an action-packed series of events, as the two young people struggle to survive. Also struggling are the Russian scientists who invented the tech, and pretty much all of the good guys are way out of their depth. While all of this action is going on, the author doesn’t skimp on character-building. Everybody, from our leads to the Russian hit men and their bosses, has at least some character arc and development.
I have to say I also liked the ending. The author has a chance to go with the conventional “happy ever after” ending but he doesn’t, subverting it while not being a complete downer. Zoya, Marcus and his “dad” all have more substantial development, which leads them to some interesting places. I also liked Mr. Cross’s eye for detail. For example, his Moscow is full of poplar seeds floating like snowflakes in the summer breeze.
If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed reading The Immortality Game.