Author: Drew Harrison
Publisher: Independently published
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Fantasy
First Publication: 2022
Setting place(s) of the story: New Phoenix, 2153
Protagonist: Hannah Preacher
Antagonist: Clive Avery, Braxton Graves
Main characters: Hannah Preacher, Sam Pollock, Rob Boardsmith, Beverly Beadie, Michelangelo, Clive Avery, Braxton Graves
Narration type: Third-person omniscient
Theme of the book: Second chances, personal change, truth as a social construct, the power of media, and the nature of art
Book Summary: Starfall by Drew Harrison
It is the year 2153.
Humanity came back from the brink of annihilation, but every crisis leaves its scars. In the neon-drenched cyberpunk metropolis of New Phoenix, glass towers will rattle as heroes and criminals clash. What strange new technologies has VitaCorp perfected? And when the light itself becomes a weapon, who, then, is the true power in the city?
A.I. specializing in content synthesis dominate the media landscape of New Phoenix, led by the greatest artistic mind ever known to mankind. Its name is Michelangelo, and it is an artificial intelligence that generates masterworks of film, music, and even literature. Beverly Beadie, a programming technician and one of the principal engineers of the Michelangelo project, is recovering from a deep, personal tragedy—and her relationship with the AI she helped to create slowly shifts in ways that challenge the very tenets of AI security.
The story unfolds across a city dominated by extragovernmental corporations that rose to power in the wake of a crisis far in the city’s past. None have influence that could compare to VitaCorp’s, the medical mega-conglomerate whose onyx-black tower dominates the city’s skyline. Their power is absolute, to the point that even the city government bows to their will. Rumors ripple across the city of abductions and even killings by stoic, suited employees of the black tower, and even stranger still—their enforcers are said to possess technology the likes of which the world has never seen.
Hannah Preacher is a woman searching for her missing lover—a man she believes to have been killed by VitaCorp agents. She partners with city police agents Sam Pollock and Rob Boardsmith on her search and drags them into a wider web of deception and murder, of revolutionaries and pretenders—all the while being pursued by VitaCorp’s most dangerous enforcer, a hunter who wears a black leather hood and adds a tally to his battery pack for each soul that he reaps.
Who is the Basilisk? What is the ichor? And if the wrong truth can destroy the world… might the right lie be able to save it?
Book Review: Starfall by Drew Harrison
Starfall by Drew Harrison is a murder mystery that also happens to be a dystopian/science fiction novel. The story is set in a city called New Phoenix in the year 2153. The name of the city perfectly describes both the city’s past adversities and its history. Vitacorp, an extra-government cooperation, was controlling almost every sector of New Phoenix. An old crisis in the city’s past led Vitacorp’s rise to power. The city’s skyline is dominated by the onyx-black tower of the medical mega-corporation VitaCorp, a major medical conglomerate, that has the most influence in the city. Their influence is so strong that even the city government bows to their authority. Abductions and even murders are reported in the city by stoic, suited employees of the black tower, and their enforcers are rumored to possess technology unlike anything else in the history of mankind.
Hannah Preacher hopes to find out what killed Quaine O’Connor (suspected to have been killed by Vitacorps for the truth he knew). With the help of city police agents Sam Pollock and Rob Boardsmith, she tries to unravels a web of murder, exploitation, cruelty. On their quest, they were constantly pursued by one of Vitacorp’s most dangerous enforcers, a hunter in black leather who kept track of every soul he reaped on his battery pack. What follows is a near perfect police procedural which at the same time is used as a vehicle to showcase the entirety of this ‘AI’ reality; through the hopes and goals of the future of mankind. So needless to say, the story revolves around moral conflict.
From the very beginning, Drew Harrison pulls the reader into this disorientating future city of New Phoenix, allowing them to discover all of the subtle developments and changes that have now become the norm. Author Drew Harrison manages to paint a truly vivid and uncompromisingly bleak vision of this urban future that screams eerily of a potentially close prediction. The premise is extraordinarily interesting and meticulously developed. It’s tragic and emotionally charged. And yet it’s actually written in very simple, straightforward terms.
Author utilises a number of carefully developed characters, each fulfilling their own unique role within the tale. As the plot moves further along, so these characters begin to play out their individual parts, drawing together a close knit collection of characters, who bring the gloomy premise of the tale to life. Starfall asks many interesting questions about the nature of humanity and proposes an interesting future scenario for the human race.
With the plot becoming more and more involved, so the storyline becomes more gripping. Drew Harrison’s story telling and characters keep the reader feeling totally engaged with each development in to tale. As the novel draws towards its monstrous finale, author throws in an abundance of over-the-top action for our principal characters as they jump from one dramatic situation to the next, with barely a breather in between. The novel ends with a totally unforeseen twist ending that will make the reader scan back a chapter or two in their head, as the all pieces fall together.
Starfall by Drew Harrison is a solid cyberpunk detective story that plays out in a fascinating science fiction universe. It’s pitch-black dark, brutally ultra-violent and a cold, difficult reality in which humans exist, and it feels lived-in, with a lot of backstory beneath the surface. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.