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Binary Storm by Christopher Hinz

Published by Angry Robot on November 1, 2016

Binary Storm is a prequel to Liege-Killer. Binary Storm introduces the Jeek Elemental known as the liege-killer, but it sets up a good bit of background before reaching that point.

In 1995, Nick Guerra was nearly stabbed to death. One hundred years later (after napping from 2010 to 2086), Guerra is in the unsecured part of Philadelphia to meet Ektor Fang, a Paratwa assassin. Like all the Paratwa, Ektor occupies two bodies. From Ektor, Guerra learns that the Royal Caste, consisting of a special breed of genetically engineered binaries known as the Ash Ock, is scheming to create a world in which the Paratwa rule.

Guerra works with the nonprofit Ecostatic Technospheric Alliance (E-Tech), an organization dedicated to “putting the brakes on unfettered science and technology.” Christopher Hinz nevertheless envisions some cool futuristic tech that E-Tech hasn’t managed to suppress.

Guerra is trying to get intelligence information to the E-Tech leadership when the leadership changes. After that, his self-imposed mission is to go after the Paratwa. He hits upon a scheme to turn a Paratwa against other Paratwas. The rest of his scheme involves training a specialized team of four fighters in a special technique to defeat the Paratwa.

Binary Storm takes place on Earth, before humanity’s flight from Earth that precedes Liege-Killer. Hinz fleshes out the background that gives rise to his earlier, post-apocalyptic Paratwa novels. The ease and prevalence of gender change is one of the points he emphasizes, giving it an interesting twist with the notion of “gender vacations.”

Guerra brings with him the guarded optimism of the late twentieth century as he confronts the pessimistic sense of doom that dominates the late twenty-first, providing a philosophical spark that gives depth to the story. For the most part, however, this is an action story, and there is enough futuristic fighting to keep action fans happy. Hinz delivers the action in a fluid writing style that makes Binary Storm easy to read. Some aspects of the lengthy novel come across as filler, but Binary Storm is a strong introduction to the earlier Paratwa books, which are more intense and, for that reason, somewhat better.


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