Adam-Troy Castro

Review: Unseen Demons

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Review: Unseen Demons

“Have we ever been able to conduct any kind of communication with them at all?”

“Are you kidding? We haven’t even been able to alert them we’re here.”

Long-time fans of author Adam-Troy Castro are probably already familiar with his Andrea Cort series. For everyone else (and for those of us who love getting ahold of a story that we haven’t had a chance to read yet), Mr. Castro has been releasing his individual stories in e-reader format, including just this month his 2002 novella, Unseen Demons.

The very first of the Andrea Cort stories written, it’s also chronologically one of the furthest along in her timeline, taking place just a year before the events in the two Andrea Cort novels. It finds the Diplomatic Corps Counselor trying to bring Emil Sandburg – a remorseless serial killer – to justice on a planet where he brutally murdered several members of the native population. Unfortunately the natives are completely incapable of delivering justice, because they’re not even aware that a crime took place.

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Review: Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories

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Review: Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories

Last week the Binary System Podcast was on vacation (check out the BSP Facebook page for pictures taken in and around Niagara Falls), and traveling means picking something want to read, something out of a list of books I’ve been saving for a special occasion. Adam-Troy Castro’s short story collection Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories was the perfect choice for some light reading while waiting around in airports.

Keep in mind that “light” in this case refers to the size of the book. It does not mean “happy”.

Shakespeare wrote that art is “a mirror held up to nature”; for this book Adam Troy-Castro is using a funhouse mirror with a magnifying glass, reflecting some of the very worst that human nature has to offer. These stories are dark like you wouldn’t believe. They’re also fascinating, thought-provoking, hard to put down and, in several cases, deeply upsetting. You could plow through all eight stories in a matter of hours, but I’d recommend following the suggestion David Gerrold wrote in the intro: don’t read all of them at once.

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Review: The Third Claw of God

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Review: The Third Claw of God

Still, there was no denying that his headquarters world, Xana, set an entirely new record for the shortest interval between my arrival at a place I’d never been and the very first attempt on my life there.

We’re talking about minutes. Minutes.

Things have started to improve for Andrea Cort at last. She’s been given a promotion (arranged by the ancient software intelligences, the AIsource, whom Andrea is secretly working for) and has more freedom than she’s known since being drafted to the Diplomatic Corps. She also has a devoted new lover/bodyguard, the beautiful cylinked pair Oscin and Skye (former lovers who’d undergone a procedure to merge their personalities together to become one person in two bodies, and yes, they do have sex). Unfortunately she’s still the notorious survivor of an unexplained massacre, and she still has a price on her head. After landing at Xana she fights off a very clumsy, very amateur assassination attempt by attackers wielding an impossibly rare weapon, The Claw of God, which kills by dissolving the victim internally, and which was invented by an obscure sect of an alien race 15000 years ago.

Andrea’s still trying to figure that one out when she and her companion(s) board a luxurious space elevator, owned by her host Hans Bettelhine, the patriarch of the Bettelhine Munitions Corporation. Over the next several hours the space elevators failsafes, well, fail. The elevator carriage is stuck high above the planet’s surface, another visitor is murdered with a second Claw of God, and every member of the boarding party is a suspect. As the Dip Corps Prosecutor-at-Large, Andrea now has to wade through a tangled mess of family history and political intrigue while surrounded by members of a corporation that manufactures weapons capable of blowing up entire planets. And even though there have been at least two attempts on her life since accepting an invitation that still hasn’t been explained, there’s a very good chance that none of this has anything to do with her at all.

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Review: Emissaries From The Dead

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Review: Emissaries From The Dead

“Did you kill Warmuth or Santiago?”

“No,” he said. “I did not. But you have to keep something in mind.”

“What’s that?”

“That if I was the killer, I’d be saying the same thing.”

It’s a locked-room mystery on a grand scale: two deliberate murders on an enormous artificial habitat so dangerous that you can die just by tripping on the way to the bathroom. The deaths would have been easy to disguise as accidents, and yet in at least one case the methods used would only have been available to the primary suspect: the Artificial Intelligence who designed and built the habitat in the first place. The investigator is under strict orders to find somebody, anybody, to pin the murders on, because the one thing she absolutely can’t do is confront an AI powerful enough to kill every human in the habitat, maybe even in the rest of the universe, and officially charge it with murder.

Welcome to the cylinder world One One One. Don’t look down.

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