It is the year 2038. Wing Fat, head of a South-east Asian biotech drug cartel, is siphoning off vital chi essence from enslaved humans held on plantations in the former Golden Triangle. And bootleg chi products are flooding the world's black markets, offering global consumers everything they have always craved: super-enhanced intelligence, greater creativity, heightened sexual powers, multimedia implants and even short-term immortality.
If you can afford it, you can have it. But even the 650-pound chi-godfather Wing Fat, who is having an affair with his intelligent elevator, can't have everything. It is up to Frank and Trevor Gobi, the father and son team of virtual reality investigators, to make sure of that.
As always with Alexander Besher, the book is crammed with big ideas and big characters and confirms his status as one of the most exciting and innovative SF writers to have emerged for many years.
Alexander Besher was born in China to White Russian parents and raised in Japan. Based in San Francisco, he has worked as editor in chief of the Chicago Review, and contributing editor for Infoworld magazine, as well as a consultant futurist in corporate scenario planning.
In this wry conflagration of the karmic body, cyberspace and pet plants...Characters drift in and out of the deceptively leisurely plot, leaving trails of quirky humour and new age mythology. Right on.
Besher's writing is accomplished...You can almost smell the sultry heat of Thailand.
Cyberpunk glitz and biotechnology blend with warped Eastern mysticism in Alexander Besher's loosely linked "Rim" sf series. This began with Rim, set in 2027, and continued with Mir--one of whose bizarre inventions was sentient tattoos. By the time of Chi it's 2038 and the world is even weirder. Vast bootlegging operations deal in chi, a life- force energy that can be technomagically sucked from unwilling victims and used to give rich addicts enhanced intelligence, great sex and even "short-time immortality". Meanwhile hackers break into Nature's equivalent of Internet, whose central node is a tree in Indonesia that channels telepathic e-mail to apes and others--including, of course, "win a million bananas" spams. Orang-utans are surgically and genetically remodelled into surrogate children for an increasingly infertile world: the human/ape species barrier is crumbling. A mysterious and decidedly offbeat variety of global spiritual transformation is threatened. Besher mixes surreal comedy, a spice of gruesomeness, and enough weird SF ideas for half a dozen books. (Under-shell deodorant for snails? Good grief.) The plot is a wild roller-coaster ride that ends with several loose threads and a shaggy-dog punchline. Great fun, but Chi promises slightly more than it delivers.
David Langford, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW