The Mirrored Heavens, by David J. Williams, is cyberpunk on speed. This novel hits the ground running, and never once lets up the pace, only increasing it by ever larger margins.
The story takes place in a future Earth. Mankind has made it outside the bounds of the world, but only as far as the moon. Many of the political entities of today still exist, but the Eurasian Coalition and the North American empire are in a new Cold War. The Middle East no longer exists, having been annihilated by nuclear war. The battles between superpowers occur by proxy, primarily in the Latin American countries, where most earth to space transport has its launch. But the two powers had set aside their differences to build the space elevator, the most ambitious project mankind had ever attempted. When a new and previously unknown terrorist organization known as the Autumn Rain destroys that project, ever available resource of both powers is turned against them and each other.
Against this backdrop is the tale of three pairs. Each of them is involved in some way with the Autumn Rain, whether willingly or unwillingly, and the revelation of their involvement is the crux of this story.
The apparent heroes are Jason and Claire, the characters mentioned on the book’s back blurb. She is a razor, a person capable of hacking into any computer system through electrical current, he a mech, the on the ground eyes and ears of a razor. Mechs are the black ops soldiers, the people who break into compounds to fulfill missions, and razors are the counterparts who foil the various systems of alarm and weaponry that try to foil the mechs. Atop them sit handlers, who give these pairings their missions. Jason and Claire are intimately involved with Autumn Rain, but because their memories have been scrambles so many times, they cannot know in what way.
The second pairing is Carson the Operative and his razor. These two are on a mission to the moon, seeking out an ex-North American soldier who may have ties to Autumn Rain. The third pairing is an apparent North American renegade and an agent for the Eurasian Collation. The renegade has information he wants to sell for his life, and these two are forced to make a run for the border, to get out of North American territory as soon as possible.
Williams has chosen to structure his novel so that each section is broken up into further subsections, each of which comes from the point of view of one or another of the aforementioned characters. (Pay close attention the symbols at the beginning of each section, they let you know who the major players are in that section of the story.) By making these subsections short, and writing in clipped, subject/verb sentences, Williams manages to make a reader’s heart pound. The story is much more a thriller than it is an SF novel, and Williams seems intent on making the reader move further and further towards a powerful crescendo of the action. And it is a powerful and unexpected climax. It is exciting and intense, and a good movie it would make.
Speaking of movies, there are two types to which The Mirrored Heavens should be compared. The first is the traditional Bond film. The villains of this story, the Autumn Rain, have all the traits of a typical Bond villain, even the point of having an undersea base. In this way, the story of The Mirrored Heavens has the same one man against the powers of evil feel of the Bond movies of Sean Connery or Roger Moore. Secondly, this story should be compared to the Jason Bourne movies. It has the same thriller feel, couples with the non-stop action and dark grittiness of setting and character that make the Bourne movies (and the more recent Bond movies) so popular. It is a workable combination in this fiction, and comes out making the book quite strong on entertainment and character development.
This then, is my recommendation. Read The Mirrored Heavens. Its vision of a dark and terrible political future and constant and significant plot twists make this novel a book you could read twice, each time with a wholly new perspective. Williams makes the reader’s blood boil and heart race with his non stop action. Very few books have ever lived up to overused description of a “non-stop thrill ride”. The Mirrored Heavens is one of those few.