Travel Documents 11: Chromed: Upgrade: A Cyberpunk Adventure Epic

Chromed: Upgrade: A Cyberpunk Adventure Epic

Richard Parry
Genre: Dystopian, cyberpunk, corporate espionage

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The Dust Cover Copy

It’s 2150AD. There hasn’t been a corporate war… until now.

Mason Floyd is an augmented syndicate enforcer at the top of his game. His job is asset protection and acquisition, no questions asked.

Company tech is stolen on Mason’s watch. Rival megacorps want it, and they don’t mind killing him to get it. Framed for the theft, Mason runs. He tangles with off-grid rockstar Sadie Freeman on the grimy seam between the powerful and poor. Together they uncover a secret an entire city died to keep.

Hunted and desperate, they must team up to survive. Together Mason and Sadie can save the world. Apart, both are lost. They must trust each other or die.

Megacorps. Cyborgs. AI. Gene-spliced monsters. Syndicate enforcers. Off-grid illegals. Supersoldiers. Rock music. Violence. Einstein-Rosen bridges. Liquor. Enhanced reflexes. Power armor and energy weapons. Full body replacements. Swearing. Mind control. Telekenetics. G-Men. Drugs. Neural links. Orbital cannons. THIS IS CYBERPUNK.

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

Seen through the eyes of company men and outcasts, this is a plausible world of corporate intrigue and economic inequality. I found the structure and the socio-economic evolutions of situations to be completely human (for better and worse) and beautifully complex. The never-ending rain and the speech patterns kept a sense of neon-noir retro going strong without making the transhuman and trans-dimensional tech feel alien. The story is set in a nicely realized world full of uncomfortably plausible social norms and economic motivations.

The Crowd

Characterization

The rocks humanity hits one another with will change with time, but the motivations never do. The characters in this story are timeless: I could see them in a film noir wearing slouch fedoras or in their futuristic setting with orbital lasers on call. Mason and Harry are classic Company MenTM, but I was pleased to see many types of Company Man represented: the heavy duty Enforcer, the whip smart cocksure type, the dead eyed fixer. It made the non-Corporate characters’ reactions to Corporation men completely understandable. But once Parry built that understanding up, the writer deftly peels it back to show the humanity of his Company Men. Building them up took work, but making them human took skill.

Only the secondary antagonist felt flat to me (no spoilers), since he essentially filled the role of Bond Villain. But I get the sense that he’ll be fleshed out in Book 2, and I’m invested enough to look forward to that.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Nice, fast and tight. No troubles here.

The Moves

Plot

Now this is the one spot where things got a little dicey. As an overall read it was enjoyable, engaging and fun. But occasionally I heard the plot creaking under the weight of too many disparate elements. Corporate espionage? No problem. Turncoat scientist, okay, interesting. Hallucinogenic rain, mm, that’s new and cool. Transdimensional travel? Oh, okay, Fringe is good. Wait, we’re throwing in zombies and physionics now? Wait what?
Now don’t get me wrong, the writer pulled it off. But it required some dedication on the reader’s part to keep up with the plot, and the entry point for the second-world storyline felt a little out of pace: for a second in the introductory section I was sure my reader had fritzed and grabbed pages from another book. It all works in the end, but it does feel odd.

Oh, and a nitpicky point: Parry, think about cutting the end of the blurb off. Your work’s great and very genre. You don’t need to tell us everything it has in it and that it’s Cyberpunk 😉

Overall Rating

A fun, fast paced romp through the future of humanity. Buckle up.