SIMULACRUM, Rian Darcy, Clasp Editions, $6.99 www.circlet.com, 270 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
Usually when I start a book from Circlet Press, I expect a lot of sensuality and good writing; but, I found much more with this title. I found the story to be well thought out, characters well developed, and the sensuality strong – but secondary to the overall story.
Shaun Mason is a “desk jockey” in the LA Cyber Crimes Division and is surprised to receive a call from Detective Hudson, the chief homicide detective, and is invited to help investigate a series of homicides. Several people have been killed while in their Simulated Reality Tanks while online in Simulnet. The only thing is that Mason has to do his investigating under the radar and off the official grid.
Hudson tells Mason how to meet a “Partner” in Simulnet and find out what the victims have in common and dig up clues to the killer. His partner goes by the name Lore and knows a lot about Simulnet and constantly surprises Mason with his knowledge and abilities.
Similnet is an alternate reality where those who can afford it go to explore their sexuality in ways that can’t be done in the real world. The players create their avatars so that they can be whatever or whomever they desire. It’s like the ultimate sexual fantasy come true.
Shaun has just broken up with his girlfriend over commitment issues and his adventures in Simulnet are causing him to wonder about his sexuality. As his feelings for Lore grow, the body count grows and Shaun must find a safe place since the killer invades his home.
Following the clues, Shaun relays the clues to Detective Hudson and finds more than he bargained for as the story comes to a fitting and satisfying conclusion. This is another winner for Circlet and I’ve added a new writer to my must read list. On a side note, SIMULACRON-3 by Daniel Galouye (made as the movie Level 13) is another must read in this genre.