Verdict: DIGGING INTO CYDONIA is fun and witty, full of imagination and great characters.
In the wake of a horrific asteroid collision, most of humanity has relocated underground. Only one city, Cairo, remains, and only the elite can ever hope to see it. The underprivileged masses living in the underground tunnels have only one thing to distract them for their miserable lot in life: a virtual world called Cydonia.
Cydonia is a world of VR environments and video games, and the best gamers are celebrities in their own right. One tunnel-dweller, a fellow named Hap, is one of the best gamers there is. Blessed with extraordinary (and nearly inexplicable) powers and abilities when in Cydonia, he is beginning to attract all the wrong kinds of attention: a more-evil-than-average corporation wants to use his powers to their own ends.
P.K. Rock’s DIGGING INTO CYDONIA, the initial entry in the Cydonia’s Upheaval series, is a fairly entertaining read, even if the above synopsis might sound a tad familiar to some readers. While it is true this story’s premise might borrow a bit from Wool and Ready Player One, CYDONIA’s world-building is very involved and well-thought-out, from the tunnel-dwelling and reality-deprived “Rat Dwellers” to the Remnants, a dangerous gang that controls the tunnels underneath New York City.
The book is so short and so non-self-contained that it’s hard to assess it like one would most novels, but one notable flaw is in its supposed climax. Set up as a worldwide tournament of VR gaming where the best of the best match strength, it ends up being mostly a generic virtual bloodbath, without much cunning or cleverness involved. It’s still an exciting sequence, but as a set-piece, it’s not very complex, and it’s also not as dramatically weighty as it could have been. Nevertheless, the book is an interesting first step into a story that may have some promise. It’s difficult to judge on its own, but it may yet yield a great new science fiction saga, given half the chance.
Fun and witty, DIGGING INTO CYDONIA is full of imagination and great characters.
~Chaz Baker for IndieReader