cover image The Rig

The Rig

Roger Levy. Titan, $14.95 trade paper (624p) ISBN 978-1-78565-563-0

Levy’s first novel since 2006’s Icarus is an unsatisfying dystopian revisit of the author’s career themes: the use and misuse of technology, colonization, and the toxic persistence of the Christian worldview. Narratively, it’s a sophisticated interweaving of four voices. Alef is in rigor vitae, or “rv”—preserved at the moment of death. His memory speaks in the first person through software called AfterLife. He’s a computer savant and mnemonist; the slow unfolding of his lifelong entanglement in organized crime is the backbone of the plot. The three other protagonists are located on the oceanic planet Bleak, where rv sarcophagi float amid mysterious rigs: Tallen is recovering from an apparently random knife attack, Razer is a drifter who writes “TruTales” posted on AfterLife, and Bale is an enforcer whose story Razer is pursuing. Tallen’s near-murder brings the three together into a mix of thriller and sociology text that will engage fans of hard-SF worldbuilding. Characterization and culture, however, are not Levy’s strengths. Razer is a barely disguised porn star, emblematic of the Madonna/whore simplification of all the female characters. Colonization of the planetary system was undertaken by “Asia, Greater Europe, and America”: southern latitudes simply didn’t make the cut. This confusing mix of elements doesn’t live up to its conceptual promise. (May)