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Void Star:  A Novel
Author: Mason, Zachary
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Age: Adult  LC: PS3613.A 
ISBN-10: 0374285063  ISBN-13: 9780374285067  Brodart No: 116087137 
Language: English 
Demand: Hot 
Pub Date: 04/11/2017
Availability: Available
List: $27.00
Physical Description: vii, 385 pages ; 24 cm LCCN: 2016033247 
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Insight Catalog: Adult Bibliographies:
Starred Reviews: Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Awards: Kirkus Books of Special Note 
Library Journal Starred Reviews 
TIPS Subjects: Science Fiction SEARS Subjects: Dystopias
Literary fiction
LC Subjects: Artificial intelligence, Fiction
FICTION / Literary
Memory, Fiction
Science fiction
Reading Programs:
ONIX annotations | 04/11/2017
A riveting, beautifully written, fugue-like novel of AIs, memory, violence, and mortality Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it's still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn't rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that gives her perfect recall and lets her act as a medium between her various employers and their AIs, which are complex to the point of opacity. It's a good gig, paying enough for the annual visits to the Mayo Clinic that keep her from aging. Kern has no such access; he's one of the many refugees in the sprawling drone-built favelas on the city's periphery, where he lives like a monk, training relentlessly in martial arts, scraping by as a thief and an enforcer. Thales is from a different world entirely-the mathematically inclined scion of a Brazilian political clan, he's fled to L.A. after the attack that left him crippled and his father dead. A ragged stranger accosts Thales and demands to know how much he can remember. Kern flees for his life after robbing the wrong mark. Irina finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop's screen in her employer's eyeglasses. None are safe as they're pushed together by subtle forces that stay just out of sight. Vivid, tumultuous, and propulsive, Void Star is Zachary Mason's mind-bending follow-up to his bestselling debut, The Lost Books of the Odyssey .
 Starred Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews | 05/01/2017
Imaginative, intelligent vision of a future in which the machines we build take an unusual interest in us even as we seek to exploit them further. Dystopian fiction thrives on taking present facts and trends and extrapolating them into the future, making the bad even worse. Mason (The Lost Books of the Odyssey, 2010) fully honors this genre convention. Are the ice caps melting? Fine: a century or so from now, let's put New York underwater, make an archipelago of San Francisco, a glittering city of towers that is "remote, incorruptible, a place outside of time." Is inequality rising? Then we'll have a world in which the rich live entirely apart from the poor, who in turn inhabit Rio-style favelas in the hell that is Los Angeles--and most of the rest of the world, for that matter. In this future, AI algorithms are almost ready to emerge into full consciousness, and when they do, humans won't much matter. Enter Irina, an intermediary with an implanted memory who can interpret bots to humans and vice versa. Her employer, a super-tycoon named Cromwell, wants nothing more than to live forever, though he is already "approaching the limit of what life extension can do." AI might be of help there, though even the wealthiest and most capable of Mason's characters--including a Brazilian heir to a fortune and a brilliant though bent-toward-bad intellectual--are having trouble figuring out why the avatars and disembodied voices of the machines are misbehaving so. Cromwell also wants what's inside Irina's brain, which she has to put to good use escaping the many traps he lays for her, helped along by a growing insurrection among the have-nots. Parts of the book are overwritten, and the many threads of the storyline show a bare patch here and there, but in the main, Mason's story makes a fine ode to freedom of thought and being in an oppressive time. A richly rewarding blend of noir thriller and sci-fi in the best tradition of Dick, Stephenson, and Delany. 400pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2017.
Library Journal | 02/15/2017
In this technothriller, set in a not-too-distant, postapocalyptic future, coastal cities have been submerged, growing income disparities have led to masses living in drone-built ghettos, AIs programmed and maintained by shadowy forces are seemingly in charge, and cures for aging are available for those who can afford them. Among this world's inhabitants is Irina, a contractor whose brain implant gives her a prodigious memory and the ability to act as an intermediary between her various employers and the AIs. Her talents bring her to the attention of Cromwell, a rapacious tech baron with a benign image who wishes to use her abilities--and her memories--to further his own ends. Meanwhile, Kern, a ghetto dweller, martial arts devotee, and small-time thief, is being pursued by thugs after he steals an unusual cell phone. And the mathematically-minded Thales, son of the Brazilian prime minister, helps Irina take on an all-powerful AI known as Cloudbreaker, with the assistance of Akemi, a Japanese actress, in the novel's ultimate confrontation. VERDICT Mason's follow-up to The Lost Books of the Odyssey is a complex and spellbinding tale of a future where self-preservation, in every sense of the word, is a victory. [See Prepub Alert, 10/10/16.]. Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA. 400p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2017.
 Journal Reviews
Booklist | 02/15/2017
In Mason's sophomore effort, he jumps slightly forward in time instead of far back, as he did in his first book, The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2007). In this near-future work, he teases forth the story of three very different characters--Kern, a scrappy refugee clawing a living from within the favelas of San Francisco; Irina, who uses her artificial-memory implants to fuel her entrepreneurial efforts, which in turn pay for the expensive treatments to keep her young looking; and Thales, the mathematical-genius child of a Brazilian political overlord, forced to flee his home country when his father is killed. Mason's prose takes on the meandering, sometimes disconnected form that our own thoughts take as we move through our days. With its present-tense form and word choices that raise the bar on the text but will prove challenging for some readers, the book is not for the casual reader looking for a quick, light read. Readers who enjoy Cormac McCarthy and China Mieville but wished they had had more influence from Neal Stephenson might find this book is just what they're looking for. Kuczwara, Dawn. 400p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2017.
Library Journal Prepub Alert | 10/10/2016
This exemplar of literary sf from the author of the New York Times best-selling The Lost Books of the Odyssey blends the stories of three people in a climate-changed near future. In San Francisco, where drones meant to keep out the poor dominate the skies, Irina uses her artificial memory to help people connect with their sophisticated-beyond-belief AIs while Kern acts as thief and enforcer in the slums on the city's borders. Soon, she uncovers a dark secret and he robs the wrong person, even as Thales, who's fled from Brazil to Los Angeles after his politician father is killed, is troubled by a stranger's demand to know what he remembers. Barbara Hoffert. 400p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
Publishers Weekly | 02/13/2017
Mason portrays late-22nd-century Earth as a dark and desperate world populated by drones, slums, rising tides, longevity treatments, and artificial intelligence. His fleeting images of harsh cityscapes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Thailand evoke an inhuman coldness. Three characters unwittingly take part in a globe-spanning scheme to stop a powerful AI that hijacks people with memory implants to interpret the world for it. Thales, the son of a Brazilian politician, receives such an implant after surviving an assassination attempt. Irina Sunden uses her implant to link with AIs and learn how they think. Street fighter Kern, from the favelas, steals the wrong phone. When Irina finds computer code in city graffiti, she links with Akemi, a ghost woman trapped in an AI, the voice on the other end of Kern's phone. Together they help Irina contact the powerful Cloudbreaker AI and get revenge on Cromwell, a wealthy recluse who wants Irina's memories. Patient readers who persist through the excessive layers of description will be rewarded with a vivid story, complete with a chilling and satisfying ending. (Apr.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2017.