Up a Level
Cybermancy by Kelly McCullough

I'm a programmer by profession and also one by choice. I also have that passion for fantasy and urban fiction that can't help by color my view of the world. When there are stories that combine these two together, I have to admit, I can very easily fall in love.

Kelly McCullough's book, WebMage started it. A child of the Fates who happens to use a divine computer network to program spells. Laptops, cellphones, and mainframes that become goblins, sprites, and trolls. Kelly created a fantastic world that remind me of Amber and still manages to keep a fairly sane view of computers and technology. Mixing in the Greek stories into everything really just adds a capstone to everything.

Recently, I finished the sequel to the first book called Cybermancy. This continues the main character's journey into becoming something more than just a a child of Fate. It continues the mixing of magic and technology of the first one, the main reason I fell in love with the series, but added more depth as he touches on some of my favorite Greek gods: Zeus, Hades, and Cerberus. Kelly gives the various divine forces wonderful personality. Even simple things like Zeus using the computer network used to control all of reality for its most basic purposes: porn. Or Cerberus' observations on his duties. It also has nice touches of some of the divinity lessons I've head in the years, all wrapped into a very well-written package. But, even with Kelly moves away from the worn personalities of Greek gods, he still builds great characters with the webgoblins, pixies, trolls, and various family members involved.

I never felt the story was forced in any part of the book. It just zipped right along, keeping a nice level of buzz through the story. The descriptions are light but flowing. I could learn a lot of from his writing style.

That isn't to say I liked everything in the book. The romantic subplot fell kind of flat for me. It wasn't the fact it was there, it started in the first book very well, but I simply didn't feel the passion between the main character and his beau. It is hard to keep up passion across two books and I don't think it survived into the second book as well.

There is also rape in this book. It is the classic story of Hades and Persephone, much like the Grimm Brother's version of some of the Disney tales. Raw and brutal, despite never seeing it "on screen" as it were. Kelly's descriptions, even glossed over and only a dozen paragraphs spread out through the story, it gives a sad but haunting quality to the story. There is a point to it, and it is tied nicely into the plot, but I can't recommend it to anyone who avoids those topics.

And, because of the nature of dealing with the Fates, Necessity, and all the other Greek gods, there are know-it-alls. Everywhere. This is one of those cases where I have to accept it. It isn't a matter of everyone knows what's going on, but everyone knows different sets of everything and acts like a know-it-all. Sadly, some of them honestly know-it-all. So, it's kind of a neutral comment.

Despite that, I loved the book. It flows smoothly and meshes right into my own personal hot buttons in fantasy: magic and computers. I also like the harsh view of the worlds. I like how people experience damage having their adventures instead of coming out smelling like roses. There is no doubt I'll be grabbing the third and fourth of the series.