Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Stunning Voice in SF

Title:  Flex
Author:  Ferrett Steinmetz
Publisher:  Angry Robot

Flex is a wonder drug. 

It flexes the world into whatever your mind can imagine.  Are you a gamer?  Gamermancy will give you life bars and power ups during a gun battle.  Is your perfect world one of lists and paperwork to keep everything organized?  Papermancy will allow anything to happen simply by filling out a form.  Literally everything you can imagine can become reality.

For a price.

With Flex comes Flux.  It's karmic law.  Whatever good you create must be offset by something bad.  It could be a simple as your house burning down.  Or as brutal as hundreds of dead strangers.  It depends on how big the magic you created was.

Paul Tsabo was a cop, but is now simply a bureaucrat.  There are three things he knows with all the certainty in his heart.

1)  He loves his daughter.

2)  He resents his ex-wife.

3)  The only good 'mancer is a dead one.  And if you can't kill them, at least wipe their brains clean.

His world makes perfect sense…until an act of 'mancy disfigures and almost kills his daughter and wakes his own 'mancy.  And whether or not 'mancy is evil, Paul Tsabo is going to use it to find and destroy the 'mancer who hurt his little girl - even if it kills him.

The book is billed as urban fantasy.  If you're like me, that term has been corrupted to mean books featuring girls wearing leather and killing and courting sexy demons.  Ferrett Steinmetz has taken the term Urban Fantasy back!

This is gritty, violent, and sharp.  The magic is both fantastical and yet grounded in reality.  The book is unflinching.

Paul Tsabo is like something straight out of a magical Death Wish or Dirty Harry.  He's a wounded man who turns his need for revenge into something bigger and even more important.  And as for the women in the book, if they do wear leather, it's more because they took it off of your broken corpse than any demon killing dominatrix fantasies.

This is original, strong SF and I can't wait to see what the author does next!

*ARC Provided by Netgalley for review purposes.

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