________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 24 . . . . February 24, 2012


Circle Tide.

Rebecca K. Rowe.
Calgary, AB: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2011.
271 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-59-3.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Noah stepped off the elevator into the darkness of Senator Mari Ortegaís outer office suite. The odor of acrid sweat pervaded the room. He could hear muffled conversation. The inner office doorway formed a rectangle of light at the far end of the enormous, pitch-black room.

Across that island of light, a man and the senator danced. Noah stared at their silhouettes, defined by the luminous inner office behind them. The stranger had one arm wrapped tight around the senatorís waist lifting her from the ground. Only the tips of her shoes graced the floor. As quickly as the couple had appeared, they spun out of Noahís field of vision.

This is awkward. Sheís the one who insisted we urgently meet, Noah thought. Did she forget?

A gut-wrenching wail issued from the other room A second cry ended abruptly.

The illusion of the dance evaporated. Noah sprinted through the gloom into Ortegaís inner sanctum. She had fallen to her knees. Doubled over with her arms around her stomach, the senator gasped for air. A man with arms as thick as tree trunks stood over her.

Circle Tide, set in a future Los Angeles of 2150, crowded, with the separation of rich and poor more pronounced than today, the story opens with Noah, the rebellious son of wealthy parents, promising a dying friend he will deliver a confidential datasphere. On the opposite side from wealth and privilege, a street-smart data thief and low-level researcher, Rika, uncovers what appears to be an eco-catastrophe in the making, Circle Tide, a deadly fungus ravaging the city.

      Naturally, there is villainy aplenty: with knife-wielding monks, hackers, suspicious wealthy patrons, and artificial smart intelligences, all set against a backdrop of class struggle in a city where the boundaries of reality and simulation blur. Noah and Rika cross paths as he tries to fulfil his promise against the authorities belief that he murdered his friend, the senator, at the same time Rika attempts to uncover the source of Circle Tide while not knowing whom she can trust in her world of research.

      The book opens with the authorís acknowledgments followed by the story which is divided into 27 chapters. Well-written, the tale paints a picture of a world in chaos and the interaction of two young people from very different background, very suspicious of each other, yet both searching for the same thing in the end. What ties the senatorís murder to the spreading Circle Tide? A difficult trick in our rapidly evolving world of modern technology, the author makes a good attempt to describe what a future civilization might look like, with the comparisons to today and the differences.

      Circle Tide should appeal to readers of dystopian science fiction, complete with a murder mystery and a touch of romance.


Ronald Hore, involved with writerís groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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