Science Fiction Books off late have been very disappointing. They are either formulaic or they get very predictable, or they fall into the usual tropes which I just find annoying. I try to preface all my reviews of Science Fiction books with my distaste for modern science fiction, with a few exceptions of course.
It’s a sort of quasi-follow-up to Phillip K. Dick’s phenomenal The Man In The High Castle. In a similar fashion, USJ open to Japan winning the World War, and taking over the Americas. Now, the Americans worship this Emperor as a God figure, and he rules over all this land with an iron fist. Any form of sedition is considered as treason; slacking, negligence or even laziness is considered a punishable offence.
Agent Akiko Tsukino, a member of the Japanese Secret Police, is this hardcore rule follower who’s first name should ideally be “Agent.” She meets Ben as part of her investigation into a mysterious and seditious game that imagines a universe where America has won the world war. She suspects Ben, but then enlists him to help her uncover the mysterious origins of this game, and it’s relation to his former General, Mutsuraga and the surprisingly sudden death of Ben’s friend and the General’s daughter, Claire.
I’ll start of by complementing the author on phenomenal world building. The way he describes this Alternate History version, with the rebel groups called George Washingtons; USJ having a Video Game Censor department and monitoring seditious activities through games; the God-Status of their Emperor; and, of course, GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS! All of this, somehow, seems plausible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Emperor actually turned out to be the head of Nintendo!
But, my point it that the story is good. It’s very good, in fact. Both the characters are so well developed by the end, and there is so much mystery surrounding both of their intentions until the very end.
The book is filled with references to both The Man in the Hight Castle and American History. It also has this really funny scene that related to Hitler (which I shall not spoil for anyone).
Oh! And did I mention GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS!!
JAPAN ACTUALLY USES GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS!
Yeah, so, I really liked this book!