Review: “Innocent Deception” by Matthew S. Cox

5 of 5 stars.

Included in Chronology published by Curiosity Quills Press, this solid tale projects a truly dark situation 65 years into the future. World War III has come and gone [one major front in North Korea] and an airborne bacteria is wasting the population with a disease dubbed The Fade. Highly protected, and drone-patrolled neighborhoods gleam within desolate remnants of cities reduced to shanty-towns. A combination of the authoritarian government and the privately-owned pharmaceutical companies that make, control and guard the supply of vaccine and treatments for Fade police these exclusionist neighborhoods of Citizens. Meanwhile, those excluded are poor, starving and dying. Various resistance movements have sprung up out of desperation, but nobody can truly trust anybody anymore for the same reason.

Maya Oman is the 9 y.o. genetically-engineered, perfect daughter of Ascendant Pharmaceuticals CEO, Vanessa Oman. Or, she is one of the 16 convincing Maya Oman androids that may or may not be internally armed with a nuclear self-destruct option. One Maya is stashed at each of Vanessa’s 17 apartments and they receive equal attention from her–next to none. And exactly one has been kidnapped for ransom by a ragtag group of desperate Non-citizens. Genna is the one-time mother who couldn’t afford the price of the Fade treatment for her son. [Fact: the treatment costs $.46 to make, $200 to buy . . .] Icarus is a Vesper-addled lock-picking expert that is prone to visual hallucinations as he enters withdrawal or is plunged into darkness. Moth [short for Behemoth] is a PTSD-afflicted giant of an ex-soldier that is more machine than man these days, including both eyes and arms. He is prone to WWIII flashbacks at which times Icarus’ Chinese-heritage looks awfully North Korean. Headcrash is the paranoid tech-expert with a soft spot for the rats that inhabit their hideout.

Together, these five gnaw, wile and threaten each other as the ransom dismissals roll in from Vanessa and the search drones get closer. This story is highly recommended.
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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