Jon Courtney Grimwood’s Lucifer’s Dragon

314GW1J72EL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Lucifer’s Dragon is, as the Max Headroom series used to say, is set twenty minutes in the future. It set a century from now with flashbacks to a future not that far from our present. Though marketed as cyberpunk, it’s not really as hacking and computer networks in general don’t really play that much of a role. And it really does reflect that Grimwood was early in his career as it’s less well-crafted than his later later work which is extremely well-crafted.

Passion di Orchi, daughter of a mafia don, has decided to build Venice anew in the middle of the Pacific Ocean atop an oceanic ridge. To do so, she takes her trust fund money to create dummy companies that she then uses to leverage loans from banks who think that her companies are real. Eventually she manages to amass fifteen billion dollars. And that’s when the book gets interesting.

The story has several threads in addition to that one, all of which are really fascinating. Another thread follows Razz, a woman so heavily modified that she’s silver skinned who’s the bodyguard to the head of the global media corporation, CySat, that controls NuVenice. Unfortunately she ends up being killed while doing that and is then resurrected in her unmodified sixteen year-old body but with the memories of her twenty-six year old mind.

Another thread follows a NuVenice police office named Angeli drafted by CySat to investigate a murder that Karo, the daughter of Count Ryuchi, a CySat Board member, committed for very rational reasons, but neither Angeli or her father know she did. Add to that there’s a game, Lucifer’s Dragon, a MMORGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game), which never repeats itself. And Lucifer’s Dragon hides a very unusual AI within itself. An AI that may be manipulating everything that’s happening.

Finally add in a Goddess with multiple personalities who tells several characters that they are actually dead even though they think they’re very much alive, and you get that the idea that a lot is going on. And you’d be right. It was his second novel which more than is a bit scattered but still fascinating. If you discovered this author just a few years later, you’d be surprised the difference in how well those novels are written. This just seems like a trunk novel, a term used to indicate an early work that was written but not published ’till much later in their career.

(Holder and Stoughton, 1998)

Cat Eldridge

I'm the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog, both of which are my properties. My current reading is the Wylding Hall novella by Elizabeth Hand, Laura Bilkle’s Dark Alchemy, and listening to Charles de Lint’s The Wind in His Heart. I'm listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I'll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather grows colder.

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