I’ve read all of Bruce Perrin’s books, and when I saw he had a new one, I immediately checked it out through Unlimited. Every time I read a new book by him, I think it’s the best one so far. This time is no exception. Killer in the Retroscape is different from his other books in that this one takes place in the year 2068 with flashbacks to 2035, 2046, and 2054. However, the book’s theme is much the same as in his earlier books—advances in technology, people’s increasing dependence on it, and the good and bad that goes with it.
The world building in Killer in the Retroscape is amazing. The author has applied his technological knowledge to imagining where our world is heading, and his conclusions seem very believable. In the world of the book, people have become more isolated from physical contact with each other, preferring instead to socialize via an advanced version of the web. Sitting in a waiting room yesterday waiting to get my weekly massage, I looked around at the other people there, all of whom were engrossed in their cell phones, and thought, yeah, I can see that happening.
Just taking a tour through the world of the future would make reading this book worthwhile, but the author also manages to populate that world with believable characters, some of whom aren’t even human. Two of my favorites were the machine intelligences, Suze and Censere. Loved their sense of humor—Censere could take his show on the road! When we finally have machine intelligences that advanced (and I have little doubt we will one day), can we still look at them as “only” machines? Killer in the Retroscape seems to say “no.”
The human characters are also well drawn. Doug and Ali, a married couple in their seventies, are the main characters. They are people old enough to remember a different world than the one they’ve grown into. When a friend of Doug’s dies from an apparent suicide—something that is extremely rare since euthanasia is available to all—Doug is sure there’s more to the story. He embarks on an investigation into what led to his friend’s death. I'll leave it at that rather than chance giving away any spoilers. I’ll just say that if you enjoy intelligent science fiction, this is a book you’d probably enjoy.