Chi: A Novel of Virtual Reality

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9780684830889: Chi: A Novel of Virtual Reality

It is the year 2038 and the world of cyberspace is being manipulated exclusively for personal gain. Wing Fat, the head of a Southeast Asian biotech drug cartel, is siphoning off vital chi essence from enslaved humans held on plantations in the former Golden Triangle. Bootleg chi products -- in increasingly high demand -- are flooding the world's most violent black markets, offering global consumers everything they have always craved; superenhanced intelligence, greater creativity, heightened sexual powers, multimedia implants, and even "short-term immortality."

If you can afford it, you can have it. But even the 650-pound chi godfather Wing Fat, who is having an illicit affair with his sentient elevator, can't have everything. It is up to Frank and Trevor Gobi, the father-and-son team of virtual, reality investigators, to make sure of that.

In Chi, the third novel of the critically acclaimed Rim series, Alexander Besher takes the reader on an incredible futuristic journey to a fascinating world only the deep recesses of Besher's mind can acutely portray. By following the adventures and exploits of Frank and Trevor Gobi, and their quest to undermine Wing Fat's powerful chi empire, the reader is introduced to the bizarre Southeast Asian world of biotech primates who are half-human and half-orangutan and the bloodthirsty pirates who risk life and limb to smuggle the mutants out of the wild so they can be assimilated into the human world. By uncovering a peculiar tragedy involving a pair of Romeo and Juliet-like primates, the Gobis are led deeper and deeper into the evil empire of Wing Fat until they finally come face to face with the terrifying, gripping truth. Suspenseful and dramatic at every twist and turn, Chi is the perfect final installment to the celebrated Rim series. Besher's first two books, Rim and Mir, were hailed as pioneers in the world of contemporary science fiction, and Chi is the logical culmination to those works.

Wildly imaginative, wickedly funny, and devilishly suspenseful, Chi is a wonderfully crafted, page-turning futuristic thriller. A bold and daring novel, Chi ups the ante on Besher's unique brand of visionary mayhem and takes the reader on a fantastical ride to a world no one has ever seen before.

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Review:

Cyberpunk glitz and biotechnology blend with warped Eastern mysticism in Alexander Besher's loosely linked Rim series. This began with Rim, set in 2027, and continued with Mir--in which one bizarre invention was sentient tattoos. By the time of Chi it's 2038 and the world is even weirder. Vast bootlegging operations deal in chi, a life-force energy that can be technomagically sucked from unwilling victims and used to give rich addicts enhanced intelligence, great sex, and even "short-time immortality." Meanwhile, hackers break into nature's equivalent of the Internet, whose central node is a tree in Indonesia that channels telepathic e-mail to apes and others--which includes, of course, "win a million bananas" spam messages. Orangutans are surgically and genetically remodelled into surrogate children for an increasingly infertile world: the human/ape species barrier is crumbling. A mysterious and decidedly offbeat global spiritual transformation is threatened. Besher mixes surreal comedy, a spice of gruesomeness, and enough weird sf ideas for half a dozen books. (Under-shell deodorant for snails? Good grief.) The plot is a wild roller-coaster ride that ends with several loose threads and a shaggy-dog punchline. Great fun, but Chi promises slightly more than it delivers. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

Alexander Besher was born in China to Russian parents and raised in Japan. Based in San Francisco, he is the author of The Pacific Rim Almanac, and his first novel, Rim, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. For several years he wrote the internationally syndicated newspaper column "Pacific Rim," which monitored business and technology trends in the Asia-Pacific region. He is currently writing a new trilogy of futuristic novels, The Hanging Butoh Detective, featuring a Japanese sleuth who happens to be a Butoh dancer.

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