Ex-soldier, ex-detective Jack Randall, 39, is a victim of The Gap, a weird area in rural Virginia where collapsing computer codes of the "virtual world had grown too heavy and sloughed off the wires and coalesced into something solid." Computers have long since been given the job of writing code, of programming themselves, because, the narrator notes, "They were better at it, much better than us." However, "their motivations were sometimes uncertain, and after the code was sealed it was impossible to tell what was in there. Perhaps . . . a conversation humans weren't invited to eavesdrop on anymore." Twenty years ago, when The Gap was first discovered, Jack and his buddy Mal and Johnny Vinaldi were soldiers sent into the area to secure it; they emerged two years later, their psyches scarred by The Fear, a weapon generated by The Gap to protect itself. Jack and Mal became cops, while Vinaldi began his rise to drug kingpin. Meantime, in The Gap, Jack had become an addict of Rapt, the only known drug that was able to fight The Fear. Eventually, Jack ends up working at a complex where he guards Spares, clones of living people who are cannibalized when their originals require replacement parts. Jack grows attached to a group of Spares and, trying to save them, takes them to New Richmond, a fabulous, five-mile-square MegaMall 200 stories high, a cubic city that has the power of flight. When his Spares are kidnapped, Jack races about the vast hallways and villages of the MegaMall, pursued by weird figures from The Gap and involved in a series of increasingly bloody encounters leading to a surprising showdown.
The noir crime novel goes sci fi. Whether you're a fan of Philip K. Dick or Raymond Chandler this tale will engross you. It has it all: setting, character, humor, mystery, suspense, plot. And, most important, it's creative. The author's ideas blew me away. Without giving too much away, the story is set in an enormous grounded MegaMall, New Richmond, Virginia. The protagonist has fled to his home ground with 7 clones he is trying to protect. Immediately, a gang of thugs grab them and he has to figure out who has marked them for death. A mindblowing portrait of a future which might come to pass plus a read that blows the opposition away.