Detailed descriptions of her many characters' internal thoughts weigh down Casil's debut novel (after 2001's story collection, Without Absolution), in which underdogs battle a corporate giant headed by a madman bent on "improving" the human race. There's no cure yet for human mutational virus, or HMV, which transforms people into half-animal viral "freaks" reminiscent of the beasts in Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau or Cordwainer Smith's underpeople. DisLex chairman Harman Jacques, secretly infected with the virus and so evil even his grandmother despises him, creates the PerfectTown a computer-generated world inhabited by changing, growing people, constructs known as imagos as an attraction at the Magic Kingdom to model a cure. But Harman's reasons are anything but altruistic. In a eugenic experiment, he seeks to rebuild humans as imagos, but without what he considers errors or mistakes. His assistant, Julie Curtez, and her husband, Frank, discover that Harman has been running a death camp of HMV-infected freaks, drugging them and using them to help run secret unlicensed software. A crescendo of events leads to imagos of Julie and Frank working within the DisLex mainframe to discredit Harman, aided by an imago of Richard Nixon, in a dramatic good-versus-evil showdown that offers Nixon redemption. However, the plethora of points of view diffuses the emotional impact, while the origin of HMV remains inadequately explained. (Feb.)Forecast: Blurbs from such formidable names in the field as David Brin, James P. Blaylock and Mike Resnick should help, but it will take strong word of mouth to overcome the disadvantages of the high price and, possibly, of a publilsher known primarily as a reprint house..
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The story was improbable at times (no backups? Entire cities across the country relying heavily on a single computer system in California for everything, one that no one seems to... Read morePublished on April 25, 2012 by William C. Hand
This is a novel of many voices, and underneath it all, a subtle deep layer of empathy and humanity by Nebula Award Finalist and gifted storyteller Amy Sterling Casil. Read morePublished on May 4, 2002 by Vera Nazarian