cover image The Chimera Code

The Chimera Code

Wayne Santos. Solaris, $11.99 mass market (500p) ISBN 978-1-78108-797-8

Replete with snappy dialogue and convincing technobabble, Santos’s debut cyber-thriller offers a vision of a 22nd-century Earth where the only force more powerful than technology is magic. Prickly combat mage Cloke leads a chimera unit—a military group possessing a deadly combination of technological, combat, and magic skills. Cloke’s newest recruit is Zee, an infamous coder with shadowy origins and plenty of baggage. Alongside a colorful cast of cyborgs and sword masters, Cloke and Zee, who was grown in a lab and has no gender, must track down and destroy a trio of illegal clones of a powerful mage. The worldbuilding is well done, as Santos digs deep into the full implications of the supernatural interacting with advanced technology. Readers may find the treatment of Zee’s gender and pronouns (xie/hir) to be clumsy, but will be gratified by Zee’s depth, complexity, and fully realized arc. Santos’s enthusiasm for his subject is clear and his rigorous plotting delivers some genuine surprises. This is fun, fresh cyberpunk. Agent: Jennie Goloboy, Donald Maass Agency. (July)