My life in outer space

redRobe – John Courtenay Grimwood (2000)

Redrobe

There’s a website I visit now and again which generates surreal plot situations for people with writer’s block.
’A gay cardinal, a one-eyed assassin and a sentient Buddhist gun hunt for the memories of a dead lesbian Pope inside a giant space-egg’ might well have come up.
This is a competent (if frustrating) cyberpunk thriller in which Axl Borja, augmented assassin, is hired by a Cardinal to find the downloaded memories of the late Pope Joan, who apparently siphoned off a large chunk of the Vatican’s wealth to give to charity.
The rather grim – but enlivened by snappy dialogue – chase ends up on Samsara, a Ringworld style rotating rock cylinder, home of the governing Buddhist AI, Tsongkhapa, and refugees from various wars and belligerence on earth.
There’s also pimps, clones, suicidal priests (2), lesbian army officers (2), an underage Japanese prostitute and sundry AIs.
The most interesting character is the self-aware gun, transformed on Samsara into the cyber embodiment of the winged monkey Rinpoche
It’s one of those irritating and annoying novels, so packed with references to corporations, wetware tradenames, hardware functions and software, that whole pages have to be re-read in case one misses something.
For those who like sort of thing, it’s a good book, if a little depressing, which makes some valuable points about religious and media political power.
Doesn’t really break any new ground.

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