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The Archive Undying, by Emma Mieko Candon

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Sometimes you start a book absolutely knowing you are not its target audience. “Disaster gays plus mechas”: that is absolutely the jam of several people I know, and I am not them. (If you are them, go ahead and stop reading here if you want to, go forth, and pre-order. It is absolutely that thing.) But not being the target audience doesn’t have to mean that you can’t tell when something is well done, and Candon does a very good job of this chosen thing.

Humanity has a long history of creating gods in its own image, and the people of the future have the artificial intelligence technology to do it that way. Each god a city, each city a god…which works until the artificial intelligences that were those city-gods become corrupted. The corrupt gods destroy themselves and their inhabitants…but never completely. Fragments remain–roam–endanger those near them. Including themselves.

Sunai, made regenerating by his former city, might not have made great decisions if he hadn’t been touched by one of those mad, dead gods–but he’ll never know. As things actually stand, he has a proclivity for drink, drugs, danger, and men who are bad for him. But the robot fragments of his past have no intention of just letting him figure his shit out in peace. Instead there are murderous mechas and treacherous human friends everywhere he turns. Can he trust anybody? will he have to anyway? How many times can one guy get killed in one book? This is labeled the first volume of the series, but enough happens in it for two or three books.

(Just a side note for the librarians: this is the second title in recent SF (Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp, which I really liked!) where a reference to archives in the title does not result in a lot of archives in the book. The archive here is a cyberpunky deal, not a location characters are running around. Go in prepared, don’t be disappointed by lack of actual archive.)

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