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The War Bug

Author: Biff Mitchell
Genre: Science Fiction
Reviewed by Susan DiPlacido

546So. What do cheese soup, sentient virtual reality beings, and a seven-hundred pound sado-masochist have to do with each other? Pick up The War Bug and unlock the mysteries. Part sci-fi, part action adventure, and plenty of dark humor is what Biff Mitchell weaves together, along with his eclectic and electric cast in his latest offering.

Abner Hayes is Virtual Code Geneticist, where he works online studying DNA codes of plants and animals and then simulating them offline. However, his offline world is a drag. He's alone, he lives in a hovel, and his parents have already been "included", which Abner fears will also someday happen to him. Especially if his secret about his online life is to ever leak out. Because online, he has a beautiful wife and daughter. They are not avatars from the real world like he is, nor are they flat coded programs. His wife Claire and daughter Cassie are the only two online entities to have made the leap from programs to sentient, thinking and feeling, beings. However, their time is limited because the 'net is under siege and ready to collapse. Abner has created a bubble protection for his family, but they've been abducted by some sinister forces who've figured out his secret and want to unlock it for themselves. The only way to save his family is to team up with the deadly, ultimate destruction virus, known as The War Bug, to find and rescue his family before the entire world crumbles to oblivion.

Thrills and chills abound as the clock ticks down and the race is on for Abner to save his family. This is a rich and complex world, but Mitchell makes it wholly comprehensible without ever losing momentum. In his signature style, the satire and laughs are woven throughout, along with a plethora of zinging one-liners and unique descriptions. The characters are rich and varied, fully-fleshed and wholly intriguing. The good guys have edges, the bad guys have allure. And even amid the brewing chaos in this strange landscape, the story flies so high and resonates because it's so very human.

It's rare that a novel can so thoroughly capture the mind, heart, and imagination. Biff Mitchell is a blessed breed of writer who mixes the real, surreal, and potentially real by fusing philosophy, science, human emotions, humor, and terror. And The War Bug is this writer at the top of his game.

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May 7, 2004 in Science Fiction | Permalink

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