Not a sequel to his first novel Hot Head, but set in the same world and sharing some of the same preoccupations, Simon Ings’ Hotwire asks some interesting questions about how we become human, and how to become human again.
Ajay made some bad choices once upon a time–he got his grandfather killed and his sister horribly mutilated; to pay to have her rebuilt, an organ at a time, he has become an all-purpose heavy, first a secret policeman and then an assassin. Rosa has never had any choices–she roams, inconsequentially, the corridors of the space station that is, in a very real sense, her mother, scared of everything she meets and sees. When these two find themselves in improbable alliance, the consequences could be scary, and are highly charged and erotic and at times touching. This is a book about coming to terms with reality, and the very improbability of much of the reality with which the central characters have to come to terms does not lessen the hardness of their choices and our sympathy with them. Full of strongly visualised exotic settings–the slums of Brazil and the interiors of mind human and artificial–this lives up to Ings’ early promise.