What a great start to 2018! Ankaran Immersion is a Cyberpunk adventure set in an intriguing post-Apocalyptic future. The world is partially covered in The Strand – living metal inhabited by seemingly malevolent AIs who are frequently at war with humans and one another. The Strand is a great concept and I have difficulty doing it justice here, but its ability to set traps, shape-shift into giant monsters roaming the land, etc. is thoroughly explored and makes for interesting reading. I found myself very much reminded of Horizon: Zero Dawn (and occasionally The Matrix) throughout the novel, and if you enjoyed the story of that game then this is definitely one for you.
Humans are divided into two main groups – the Ankara, also known as The Pure, a nomadic tribal people who avoid and distrust The Strand and have laws against interacting with it. On the other side of the coin are The Tainted, who have adapted to coexist with The Strand, going so far as to tame and make use of the living material in their architecture and even implanting it in their bodies.
At the beginning of the novel we’re introduced to two of our main protagonists, siblings Evie and Hunter. They are Ankaran teenagers out foraging/hunting for their tribe, and we immediately learn a fair bit about their personalities. Evie is the elder of the two and is a serious, stern and impatient young woman. Hunter is a curious and thoughtful boy who has difficulty connecting to others due to his autism (this is not explicitly stated but it’s clear that he is on the spectrum). During their search for food, the pair notice unusual and dangerous migratory behavior from the Strand which results in them being cut off from their tribe. They set out on a journey to rejoin them, doing their best to avoid the Strand’s traps and attacks along the way.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Ono, a Tainted bounty hunter with a murky past who has significant Strand enhancements to half of his body. We learn that he has an angry, vicious repressed alter-ego trapped within his implants who is constantly seeking to take control of him. Ono has endured a great deal of loss and heartache due to this alter-ego – to this end, he’s struck a deal for a cure if he can hunt down a powerful gang leader named Fesso, but it won’t be an easy task. His perspective shows us another side of the Strand, and that much of its behavior is influenced by viruses. He runs into Hunter and Evie as they make their way North, and our story really kicks off when Ono realizes that Hunter could be useful to him in his hunt for Fesso. From this point I’m going to keep it vague for the sake of spoilers.
The world and its characters are well thought out – the world building takes the interesting approach of hinting at what’s going on and letting you fill in the blanks. I think Hunter in particular is extremely well developed, with his autism handled sensitively and sympathetically. Each of the main characters goes through a significant arc and ends up with a rather different outlook than they had at the beginning of the novel. Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun to read – filled with clues and easter eggs, I had a great time figuring out Weisser’s hints at how things worked. I know personally I struggle with Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic novels because I tend to find them rather depressing, but if you’re the same way and you need one for your Fantasy Bingo square then I’d absolutely urge you to give this one a crack. An easy read, it would also work as a great one-shot palate cleanser for those who need a break from a long epic series.
r/Fantasy Bingo 2017 Squares
- Published 2017
- Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic
- Writer of the Day