Cyber mage A novel

Saad Z. Hossain

Book - 2021

"Speculative fiction novel set in post-apocalyptic Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2089, after residents have discovered how to survive with biological nanotech. Cyber Mage, the teenager moonlighting as a hacker, crosses paths with mercenary Djibrel and together they seek out the fate of the Djinn, a magical super race of genies"--

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Science fiction
Dystopian fiction
Los Angeles : Unnamed Press 2021.
Main Author
Saad Z. Hossain (author)
Physical Description
341 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

It's 2089 in the incorporated cities of Bangladesh. The future is one where corporate city-states have taken the place of nations, where only people who own shares are considered worthy of basic amenities or safety, and where the vast majority of humanity is valued only for the nanotechnology in their bodies that helps sustain microclimates around urban centers. It is also a world where djinn walk, delighting in the ruins humans can no longer visit and waging their own political wars. A further apocalypse for humanity is planned, and in the thick of the action is found 15-year-old "Cyber Mage" Marzuk and street warrior Djbrel, a man who cuts off heads with a sword but keeps them alive in jars for questioning. Marzuk must also balance dealing with high-school bullies and tutoring a powerful AI of unknown origin. Readers of Hossain's earlier work (like The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, 2019) will recognize the dragon Indelbed and his role in the proceedings. Fans of the Shadowrun series and similar gritty future worlds will appreciate this blend of cyber-dystopia and magical beings.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The plot of Hossain's giddy new novel, another inventive blend of mythology and cyberpunk gizmology (after The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday), builds from two converging story lines. Fifteen-year-old Marzuk Dotrozi lives in Dhaka City in former Bangladesh, but his true domain is the Virtuality, where, as his Cyber Mage avatar, he is revered as one of the world's most skilled and devious hackers. Meanwhile, the djinn Bahamut conjures a golem, Djibrel, and sets him on a mission to assassinate the earthly minions of another djinn meddling in Bahamut's affairs. Marzuk and Djibrel's paths cross after a massive Cyber Mage hack puts them both in the crosshairs of a shady, djinn-controlled security organization, setting the stage for a dazzling showdown involving nanotechnology, anthropomorphized AIs, and virtual reality. Hossain puts a clever spin on both high fantasy and hard science tropes as ancient djinns wield futuristic technology to go head-to-head with humans empowered with their own technowizardry. Fans of both genres will find this an enjoyable romp. (Dec.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

The Cyber Mage of Hossain's (Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday) cyberpunk novel is Marzuk Khan Rahman, the teenage scion of an old and respected family in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2089. Following an ecological apocalypse, Dhaka's high population density has become the key to both economic and environmental survival. Marzuk is an expert hacker and savant when it comes to navigating the Virtuality that has replaced physical reality. When he falls for a girl and tries to catch her eye, he encounters a free-range AI, a djinn-enhanced assassin, and a plot to take over Dhaka by shutting down its infrastructure.; to save the city, Marzuk will lead an army of hackers into the biggest virtual-reality game in the world. Hossain's novel can certainly be read as a cautionary tale about climate change, but the energy that powers this story will remind many readers of a twisted version of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One: society has descended into dystopia after ecological catastrophe; the protagonist's quest is driven by privilege and self-interest; and the virtual world runs on greed. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers of cli-fi and those looking for a story that explores the virtual world.--Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A Bangladeshi teenager battles foes both magical and technological in the late 21st century. Bringing fantasy elements into a story of hackers and virtual worlds is a task few have tried. G. Willow Wilson did it in Alif the Unseen; William Gibson arguably did it in Count Zero, though the book never ventures outright into the supernatural. Hossain's latest novel borrows freely from both folklore and cyberpunk archetypes, making for an occasionally dizzying trip through a futuristic world. This is a world in which nations have transformed into corporations, hardcore gamers live in a state of suspended animation--and djinn walk the Earth. Protagonist Marzuk--the Cyber Mage of the title--is 15 and spends most of his days playing Final Fantasy 9000. Marzuk's relatively comfortable life is juxtaposed throughout the book with that of the mercenary Djibrel, who carries a large sword as he makes his way across a futuristic version of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hossain explains the juxtaposition of old and new technology briskly: "Cutting off heads was necessary in the slums due to the rampant nanotech available. Bullets didn't kill people with the same finality they used to." Gradually, their storylines converge, as Marzuk learns of a plot involving the upgraded remains of the International Space Station and a group of djinn working on creating an AI more powerful than anything that exists on Earth. That also leads to denouements that play out in both the physical realm and within the game that Marzuk is so fond of. The tonal whiplash between the novel's irreverent teen protagonist and the dense plotting can sometimes be disconcerting, but the layered narrative feels assembled with care. An unpredictable exploration of an expansive future world. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.