cover image Dealbreaker


L.X. Beckett. Tor, $27.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-250-16529-9

Beckett’s smart, energetic Gamechanger gets a lively sequel in this outstanding work of science fiction. Earth is in negotiations with advanced alien Exemplar races who covet the solar system’s real estate but will at least pretend to allow humanity to remain independent from their intergalactic empire—if the Solakinder, as earthlings are now called, can prove their ability to advance technologically. But it’s not that simple; nothing is in this novel. The Solakinder are actually a confederation of humans and independent AIs, and humans themselves now inhabit artificial “Mayfly bodies” while their consciousness are safely stored away. This enables them to enjoy daily experience in perfect virtual simulations, and also means that everyone is constantly connected and able to vote in stakeholder polls to determine whether Earth pushes ahead or surrenders to the aliens. Frankie Barnes, stepdaughter of Gamechanger heroine Rubi Whiting, works for Project Bootstrap, struggling to develop #supertech that will impress the aliens. She must contend with murderous human saboteurs and the aliens’ suave representatives—and in her corner are a ragtag crowd of simulated humans and cartoon-animal AI characters, Earth’s best representatives. The plot leaps and swaggers on from there, driven by joyful confidence that the reader—like the characters—will accept huge helpings of razzle-dazzle strangeness. The result is as delightful as it is mind-bending. [em](Jan.) [/em]