In the relatively near future, artificial intelligences have completely transcended human understanding, so much so that they can barely comprehend our existence. That’s the background of Zachary Mason’s new literary cyberpunk thriller Void Star, which examines the line between a hyper-connected society and the vast intelligences that lurk just out of sight.
Mason sketches out a fantastic, yet plausible future world. AIs are commonplace, the super-wealthy have the ability to prolong their lifespan well into their hundreds, and weaponized drones patrol the skies. To explore this world, Mason weaves the lives three characters together. Irina Sunden is a freelance contractor with a brain implant that gives her perfect recall and the ability to interface with AIs. Her abilities attract the attention of a super-wealthy businessman named James Cromwell, who pursues her after she discovers a secret that he’s been pursuing.
Then there’s Kern, a street fighter who is tasked with stealing an unusual cellphone and begins receiving instructions from a mysterious woman named Akima on the other end of the line. She provides him with a quest that will help give his empty life some meaning. Finally, there’s Thales, a son of a Brazilian politician who was given an implant to help keep him alive after surviving an attack that killed his father. There are complications, though: he has gaps in his memory after the attack, and he keeps encountering Akima, who keeps asking him how much he remembers. But running in the background of all their lives is a super-powerful AI that has its own particular agenda, orchestrating their movements and the world around them.
Irina, Kern, and Thales are driven by their own respective paths that take them around the world. Irina wants to exact revenge, Kern needs a quest, and Thales just wants answers. As the novel progresses,…