Book: Keeping it Real: Quantum Gravity #1
Author: Justina Robson
Rating: Four Stars
Lila Amanda Black is no more. In her place is a half-human half cyborg hybrid body. Meshed with her own psyche and an onboard Ai, Lila is no ordinary girl anymore, but she still bleeds, and still feels within that drop dead exterior-even if she can bench-press a small auto.
Now working for Incon, Lila is test-driving her new body on a routine bodyguard assignment for one of the most popular bands to hit the realms. An unorthodox mix of faery and elven witchery, The No Shows have recently seen some press action since their lead, mysterious Zal Ahriman and Rolling Stone darling has been seriously threatened-with death. Lila has to get to the bottom of the conspiracy before she loses control of the situation and before she loses control of Zal. Little does she know that the death threats are of a political nature, that not only threaten her realm but others, and that Zal is not who he seems. Everything eventually comes full circle-including her life.
Magic and science collide in Robson’s worlds, the casualty of a super collider incident that split realities and opened the ‘verse up to multiple realms: Demonia, Alfheim, Zoomenon, Thanatopia and Faery, the aetheric magic wielding realms versus the non-aetheric technology driven Otopia (formerly Earth). Not everybody in the realms are happy about their worlds being revealed, and xenophobia as well as burgeoning terrorism is running rampant. There are also threads of real world scenarios that add a certain depth to Robson’s writing: racism, technology saturation, and ethnocentrism to name a few. It’s fairly coherent with the exception of some terminology and theorizing about interstitial space between the realms. I’d recommend a legend to accompany the reading.
Aside from that criticism Keeping it Real was like nothing I had ever read before and I loved every minute of it especially the intense attraction between Zal and Lila which only grows as she traverses the realms to rescue him. From the wilds of Zathanor to the clutches of the Jayon Daga and Arie, to the gig circuit where Zal and his band rock on, Robson doesn’t relent until she is sure that she has taken us for an incredibly lavish ride. Readers will detect a slight Isaac Adamson-Jamie Hewlett-Lester Bangs feel to the story. It’s a rock n’ roll tale merged with slick technology, magic, and futuristic popular culture. I’ve heard others remark that it reminds them of the Bionic Woman, but come on…the Bionic Woman only wishes she were as cool as Lila! I’ve already finished Selling Out, Book #2 and have started on Book #3 Going Under, that’s how much I have been sold on this series.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review