cover image The All-Consuming World

The All-Consuming World

Cassandra Khaw. Erewhon, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64566-020-0

Khaw (The Last Supper Before Ragnarok) delivers a gore-drenched, sci-fi take on Ocean’s Eleven set in a Gibsonesque cyberverse. Puppet master Rita rounds up her infinitely reanimated clone/cyborg minions for one last caper: a hit on the planet Dimmuborgir, “a chunk of rock” shrouded in rumors that make it the obsession of wetware and circuitry entities alike. Rita’s crew call themselves the Dirty Dozen, though at the outset it’s just Rita and right-hand Maya, coaxing former colleague Ayane to listen to their pitch with a combination of four-letter epithets and a crushed larynx. Their opponents are the Minds, assorted AIs of nautilus-chambered complexity targeting Dimmuborgir for their own purpose—though what this may be is slow to coalesce. This isn’t a precision-built world: limits and definitions don’t meaningfully exist, and connections are often fragmentary. Khaw employs densely poetic prose to capture betrayal, rage, injury, and death, but is less invested in conjuring an image of the future, with abundant anachronisms and inconsistencies. For readers who don’t mind the fast-and-loose worldbuilding—and who can stomach a fair amount of body horror—the fury and lyricism make for an adventure that doubles as a cathartic scream. [em]Agent: Michael Curry, Donald Maass Literary. (Aug.) [/em]