cover image The Extractionist

The Extractionist

Kimberly Unger. Tachyon, $17.99 trade paper (290p) ISBN 978-1-61696-376-7

Unger (Nucleation) makes hacking come alive in this fast-paced techno-thriller centered on the Swim, a virtual reality accessed by uploading a “persona,” or a copy of the users mind, then downloading it again to retain the memories of the experience. Eliza McKay relies on her quick thinking and the computer system wired into her brain to make a living extracting people who’ve gotten stuck in the Swim. When the government hires McKay to extract agent Mike Miyamoto, it appears to be a normal job—except Mike’s in the Swim on a criminal investigation, and what he’s discovered has changed him so much that his persona refuses to reintegrate into the self he left behind. McKay must race the clock to extract him—but she’s not the only one who wants what Mike knows, and her adversaries are willing to go to any lengths to stop McKay from reaching him first. VR programmer Unger mines her expertise to create all too believable scenarios and creative solutions, and the novel’s at its best in the vivid, evocative descriptions of how hacking feels to a mind fully immersed in VR. The story dances between two worlds just as real as each other, pulling the reader along to an explosive conclusion. Cyberpunk fans won’t want to miss this. Agent: Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary. (July)