Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Prey Of Gods by Nicky Drayden

Port Elizabeth in South Africa is booming.  The rise of bioengineering means an easier life for most people.  Each has his own personal assistant in the form of a robot.  Of course the animals of Africa have disappeared, but there are replacements which were engineered in labs and can recall the glory of the former animals.  In fact, some animals were engineered and reproduced so prolifically that the streets are overwhelmed with dik-diks roaming about interfering with traffic and harassing tourists.

But everything is not positive.  Underneath the facade of progress, a centuries-old demigoddess is shepherding her strength, feeding occasionally on humans and taking new energy and strength from their bodies.  It is unclear who can stand up to her but her plans include killing off the majority of humans who she sees as weak and superfluous and whose deaths make her ever stronger. 

Yet there are those who can oppose her.  Muzi is a teenager obsessed with rugby and perhaps falling in love with his best friend, but lately he is starting to feel that he can influence the thoughts and actions of others.  He has an innate connection with the personal robots around him and helps them cross into being individual functioning beings.  Riya Natrajan is a spoiled female superstar; her songs known far and wide and her fans obsessed with her, not knowing about her weaknesses and her hidden strengths she is herself just starting to realise.  Stoker is a politician whose dream has always been to be on the stage like his idol Riya and he is willing to give up politics for the chance to be her backup singer.  Then there is Nomvula, a little girl who may be the most powerful of all.  She is starting to discover the depth of her powers but is unsure if she is to use these powers for good or for evil. 

The battle is set and plays out in the arena of a superstar concert.  Thousands have arrived to hear the music but will they emerge unscathed?  Evil and good will struggle and everything will be on the line; the outcome uncertain at best.  Who will emerge victorious?

Nicky Drayden is a brilliant new voice on the science fiction/fantasy spectrum.  She is a system analyst herself so the parts about robots and artificial intelligence ring true.  She has found prior success as a short story author and her debut novel has also garnered praise from many quarters. The plotting and pace of the book, alternating each character's story while advancing the plot, makes for an exciting read.  This book is recommended for science fiction readers.

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