cover image The Song of Synth

The Song of Synth

Seb Doubinsky. Skyhorse/Talos, $14.99 trade paper (276p) ISBN 978-1-940456-25-6

Doubinsky’s dark, drug-soaked fable will remind American readers of Philip K. Dick, though a more apt progenitor may well be the great Serbian fantasist Zoran Živkovic´. The tale occurs in an alternate near-future Eurasia where various city-states teeter in an uneasy state of not quite war. Markus is a former hacker and dilettante revolutionary who was captured by Viborg City security. He’s avoided jail for a decade by hacking for the government. He is also addicted to Synth, a drug that provides unbelievably real hallucinations. One day the security officers capture someone who’s carrying an untraceable credit card and an e-reader containing The Potemkin Overture, a novel heretofore unknown to Markus that portrays him as a revolutionary hero. As Markus investigates, the line between reality and hallucination blurs, and he soon flees Viborg City for Samarquand. There he meets Saran, a beautiful scientist who is doing research on Synth addiction—possibly a coincidence, possibly not. Markus, Saran, and the novel’s other major characters are well drawn and convincing. At once gritty and dreamlike, somber and sexy, this is a powerful tale of guilt, addiction, and self-discovery. (Aug.)