The Mocking Program
Warner Aspect, August, 2002.
Hardcover, 240 pages.
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Alan Dean Foster writes in many genres, yet he never seems to be at a loss for new and inventive ideas. The Mocking Program is a perfectly-executed hardboiled police procedural set in the future. Police Inspector Angel Cardenas works the Montezuma Strip, which is what the old U.S.-Mexican border is now called. Angel finds a male corpse with most of its internal organs missing. But the identification of the body is more difficult than usual; the victim appears to have two identities. Angel's considerable intuition tells him that there is more here than a typical mugging. An identity trace leads Angel and his partner to the victim's so-called wife and daughter, who actually turn out to be Surtsey and Katla Mockerkin, the ex-wife and 12-year-old daughter of crime lord Cleator Mockerkin, who will do anything to get them back. But Surtsey and Katla have gone deep into hiding, and Angel will have to go to some pretty exotic places and meet some very dangerous people in order to find the missing duo, before Cleator Mockerkin gets his hands on them.
Alan Dean Foster walks the futuristic mean streets with his usual aplomb in this skillfully executed thriller. Using a new vocabulary which is easily understandable due to the context of the new words (although there is a glossary appended), and a deft hand at description, Foster creates a world which is at once recognizable and strange. Artificial hearts are cheap and readily available, sapient gorillas run a compound in South America, and teeny little a.i.'s known as wugs observe humans, but do not interact with them. Inspector Cardenas is a welcome addition to the fold, and the ending appears to leave the door open for a sequel.
Reprinted with permission from The Internet Writing Journal®.
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