The Cyberbardos by Phillipe de Vosjoli follows on from his metaphysical novel I AM the Other and is as unusual, irreverent and thought-provoking as its predecessor. The ideas and vision in this highly intelligent book flash with brilliance, humour, and philosophical and psychological insight.
The transgressive nature of the book—religion in bed with sex and violence—makes it not for everyone, and I suspect that many Christians would find it offensive, but anyone who enjoys a combination of philosophy, technology and near-future science fiction should enjoy it, particularly those who like intelligent, thought provoking science fiction.
Vosjoli’s world building is extraordinary. He has taken a world where cyber realities are well-established, commonly visited, and exploited by religious groups, and has envisaged what would happen should an unknown entity begin broadcasting messages to humanity via the World Wide Web. He takes the projected reactions of the US government, scientists, religions and (extra)ordinary people and weaves it into a story about the search for the answer to ‘what is the I Am phenomena?’ Vosjoli ramps up the tension by making one of his characters, Derek, a nasty piece of work. He stalks through the book murdering women and goes on to target some of the major characters.
The central characters are further developed in this book, and relationships between some of them grow, so that even Sunshine, who seems a bit weird to relate to easily in book one becomes, in one sense, an ordinary guy falling in love.
The prose is good, the plot and pacing excellent, and the character interactions believable. It’s one of those books that is hard to describe because it is so different, but it’s a must-read for anyone interested in metaphysical fiction.