My second post-apocalyptic novel of the year (See WW The Earthseed Parable, July 23 ’11). Can’t remember the last one before that. Maybe The Road (WW April 23, 2007) by old Cormack? The Road’s apocalypse is unspecified. Earthseed’s is a general collapse of political and economic systems to the extent that society has retribalized. The Electric Church could be the world post Earthseed. There’s a “reunified” world government, implying that there was a disunified anarchy of some sort no too long previous. Our central character is a “gunner,” a hit man for hire. He’s 27, an old age in this society. To see a man of fifty is odd. We’re in NYC lower east side, where the currency is the yen. It’s a squalid place of ruins ruled by oppressive police in flying-saucer-like contraptions that can see through walls and light up the world and ID you by scanning your brain. You can’t hide anywhere, and the gap between rich and poor is enormous.
Into the mix throw robotic monks, created from human brains and bodies that have been rewired and programmed to go around proselytizing, then murdering to get more brains and bodies to add to the ranks. Just when they’re about to make their final move to rule everyone, the political honchos hire our protagonist to kill the head priest of the church. A power struggle with our guy, Avery Cates (Rather a snooty name for a down and dirty killer, I thought), in the middle.
It’s sort of noir science fiction with the earth to the winner. Can’t say author Somers hasn’t set the stakes high enough. Our gunner learns some stuff and changes directions by the end in a most interesting manner and in a way that sets up nicely for a sequel. I won’t be reading that one, though. Partly, though not wholly, because I found myself skipping huge chunks of description because I wasn’t interested in every minute physical and emotional reaction of the hero to every single situation. A lot of people probably will, though. Urban western gone hi-tech.