Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Cyber Punk
“ThreadBare is a debugger. He’s property, one of the Imam’s vast pool of implanted servants. He lives in a smelly, greasy garage on the boundary of the battlefield known as Delusion. All he wants is to complete his tasks, exceed his rival BullHammer, and stay alive. Possibly get a promotion.
When an atypical chore brings Thread into contact with Sandfly and HardCandy, things get complicated. Day by day and task by task he struggles with the life he’s always known. Ideas plague him, brutality vexes him, and women distract him.
Then there’s the list of offline debuggers, those who’ve quietly disappeared. Through datamixes — dreamlike records of their lives — Thread tries to uncover the truth. Where did they go? What does it all mean? And what can one forgotten debugger do about it anyway?”
“Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits, first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates's minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. He is the author of several award-winning novels, including A Star Curiously Singing, Freeheads, and Amish Vampires in Space.”
I read and enjoyed Mr. Nietz’s A Star Curiously Singing. If you enjoy snappy cyberpunk writing, I definitely recommend that read. Frayed had a number of similarities in style and in the worldview, so I was looking forward to another trip to the author’s extraordinary hi-tech future world run by powerful Imams. I wasn’t disappointed.
Written in the first person of a debugger, DR23, nicknamed Threadbare, much of the story involves the internal struggles of this “implanted” human when he is faced with the actions of a ruling class of “freeheads” (humans without implants). They abuse their powerful positions to run roughshod over not only Sharia Law, but also human decency.
Exposed to their moral corruption, Threadbare is under constant threat from the internal “stops” programmed to prevent him (through pain) from even thinking about disobeying Sharia Law. An attractive concubine further tests his “stops,” and causes Threadbare to confront the hypocrisy of a system that he is programmed to obey.
Frayed is the first book in the Dark Trench Shadow series. The series premise of a secret project and a list of debuggers who have somehow broken free of their internal programming is foreshadowed throughout. My only complaint is the cliff-hanger ending that left me feeling that this installment hadn’t been cleanly finished in its own right.??
Original review posted September 7, 2016.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words