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Rise of the Red Hand, by Olivia Chadha

Review copy provided by the publisher.

This is the second time in its comparatively short life that I’ve been surprised and impressed by Erewhon Books putting out something that is a very fresh, very modern instance of a genre I don’t see much. Olivia Chadha’s Rise of the Red Hand is dead-center-of-the-genre classical cyberpunk. It deals with a gigantic gap between the haves and the have-nots; it literally uses the word cybernetics for its concerns; there is even a character who gradually goes more and more by their hacker name over the course of the book.

But utterly modern. Yes. This book is set in South Asia, in a world divided into continent-spanning provinces by the powers that be. The environmental concerns are entirely pervasive, much more successfully so than in old-school cyberpunk. The way that issues of family and truth and social balance are handled are fresh and contemporary. The “punk” sensibility is on every page, with dismantling toxic systems on every level the main concern–including the way those toxic systems are reflected in individual and familial relationships.

So if you’ve been missing cyberpunk and yet know that you wouldn’t react the same way to old cyberpunk if you encountered it for the first time now–Olivia Chadha’s got your back. And since this says “book one of The Machinists,” it looks like she’s got plans for more. Yay.

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