Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Version43 Version 43
by Philip Palmer

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

I have to say that this is a very strange book, and it certainly would not be to everyone’s taste. It begins as a criminal investigation by a cyborg cop, sent to what amounts to a penal colony, investigates a murder. It ends in interstellar war, via hive rats, gladiatorial combats, gang warfare, and weird sexual perversions. I was quite convinced that Palmer had to be an Australian – but he’s apparently British. I had come to the conclusion that anyone who could invent the world of Belladonna – and the fifty-fifty – had to be an Aussie. The fifty-fifty is Schrödinger's cat meets deportation – a criminal is given the choice of brain-wipe or quantum teleportation to the Exodus Universe – which has a fifty percent chance of survival. Now, as it happens your chances of surviving as a prisoner on Australia’s First Fleet was actually quite high, and a lot better than fifty-fifty, but I’m sure that was the inspiration. Anyhow, we find Version 43 investigating a very messy multiple murder beginning with the scrambled body parts. He comes to certain conclusions and gets killed – and so it continues, several times. Once, even, he impossibly has to kill himself. We’re at least up to Version 56 by the end of the book, by which point the real perpetrators have been identified, interstellar war committed, destruction visited on villains, and the human race preserved. And we have been bamboozled by quantum physics yet again – and suffered through a lot of violence and bad language. Sadly, I’d have to label this another R18 novel – sadly because it’s really rather clever, and certainly original.
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