Title: Ghost in the Machine
Author: S J Davis
Series: Steam and Cyber #1
Release Date: February 17th 2015
Age Group: New Adult/Adult
GHOST IN THE MACHINE is a steampunk meets cyberpunk fantasy.
Josephine, Bodhi, and Caroline, live in a scientifically advanced Victorian London as the Industrial Revolution is in full swing. Infrared goggles, dirigibles, and analog computers exist alongside bustles, parasols, and high tea. On the grounds of an Old Saxon church, three strange net-runners arrive from a future where everyone is assigned a barcode from the moment of birth. What you buy, what you read, your health care history, your bank accounts, your measured intelligence, are all captured by this barcode and sent to the feed of OmniCorp. Human data mining forms the basis of a massive Industrial Complex, a thinly veiled profit center, based on the control of human behavior. To interrupt the inception of OmniCorp, the net-runners, a subversive underground group, enlist the aid of the steampunk Victorians to thwart a meeting between two men, who hundreds of years earlier, laid the foundation for OmniCorp. Extraordinary figures race toward a rendezvous with history, weave in and out of time, fight evil
steampunk automatons, hide in Victorian brothels, fight Indian mutinies, and take refuge in dystopian cyberpunk pawnshops, to insure a future where personal privacy is protected over corporate power.
Ghost in the Machine is an original story in which S J Davis transports the reader between a Victorian England whose citizens are experimenting with steampunk inventions, and a futuristic society, controlled by technology.
Ghost in the Machine works so well for different reasons. The first is that S J Davis’ plot threads are woven tightly together and the story’s layers mean that none of its events can be easily foreseen.
Another one is the boldness of the characters S J Davis has so carefully imagined. Initially we meet 3 characters from the past; two very non-stereotypical Victorian ladies, one of whom is the Prime Minister’s daughter, and Bodhi, who is fascinated with mechanics. Caroline, Josephine and Bodhi are soon joined by their 22nd Century counterparts; the recovering addict, Minnow, Yeshua and Nico. These three are connected by their common goal, to destroy the founding of Omni, the cyber-corporation which governs their society.
This story is mysterious and exciting, with the characters facing a constant danger. S J Davis addresses very real issues which exist in both societies. In London, it is poverty, class and sexual experimentation. In Omni it is drug use and addiction. In doing this the author reminds us that alongside technological advancement, there is always a human cost.
Ghost in the Machine is a story with a complex plot, which asks for our full attention. I had to read it in a series of short bursts because I found that if I was distracted, I would become easily confused!
S J Davis does attempt to cater for fans of romance and though this adds to Ghost in the Machine’s neat ending, I was unconvinced by the relationships formed and thought they were a little unnecessary.
This is a book I can easily recommend, especially to readers who already love the steampunk genre!