Review of 'The Hive Construct'

The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill

In a future of scarce resources a crater in the Sahara is a vast metropolis, New Cairo, dominated and operated by a small number of large corporations. Into this an exile, Zala Ulora, returns in a bid to clear her name by curing the population of a computer virus infecting augmented human body parts. A resistance has formed in the lower classes, more frequent users of augmentation (as they are provided free with their health care), against the elite who they are convinced have crafted the virus to control the masses. The president orders the closure of the elevators that would allow the population to escape in a bid to stop the spread of the virus to the rest of the world but this is not taken very well as the people rise up in rebellion.

This is an interesting story (notably winner of the Terry Pratchett Prize) that looks into both sides of the contemporary issues of terrorism and, the rather over-discussed, omnipotent corporations. Through into the mix computer hacking and you have something that hits many of the buttons of the main-stream consciousness.

I found this an impressive first novel by Maskill and an interesting page-turner. The visceral descriptions of New Cairo and the events that unfold gripped me throughout. As a bit of a techno-geek (yeah, I know) the details seem pretty much spot on and realistic (the hot topic of “emergence” plays a key role here). I did find, however, some of the characters a bit difficult to fathom and often simplistic (Alice doing what she is doing for her children, for example). Other times when I seemed to know a character they go and do something completely unexpected (or they die…lots of this here). These small quibbles aside, I will look forward to see what the Maskill comes up with next.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2014-12-31

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 2014