If you're even the smallest bit up on your Greek Mythology you'll know already that Mnemosyne is the Greek goddess of memory. And so it isn't too much of a stretch to figure out that this book's protagonist loses hers, even before we're told as much by page 7. So, faced with a plot that is so cliched the Greeks had a goddess for it, how do you force yourself to continue as Cassandra Lannigan (yes, all of the names are that bad and that telegraphic) fights to get her memory back?

This is the first book by author Peter J Evans. The cover blub states that he "cut his teeth writing the blurb for manga videos". I guess the publishers, Virgin Worlds (an imprint of Virgin Publishing), thought this would sound edgy. Actually it is a pretty accurate description of what is to come. Not so much a plot as a summary. Not so much characters as manga archetypes. Waking up in a hospital followed by a global chase (plus sidekicks) through (in order) a large city, the desert, a war zone, and finally, low earth orbit.

Like much badly written science fiction, Mnemosyne's Kiss relies on a couple of pretty cool ideas to help it through.

  • Structants are a great idea; I wish I had a dozen! A combination of "structural" and "ant" the name gives you the general gist, but specifically they're genetically modified ants that, instead of building ant's nests out of dirt and spit, build buildings out of concrete and a bonding material they excrete.
  • Nanotech has transformed resource-rich Africa into a global power, as well as all the other "common" things we expect from that technology in current sci-fi.
  • Post-Human Drug Factories. Need a bit of extra cash? How about having a special couple of stomachs implanted that will manufacture a cocktail of entertaining substances?
Unfortunately that's about it. The rest of it - from AIs that go "bump" in the night to cyber-enhanced super-agents to local war between global companies - we've seen before.

Not a book to rush out and buy, but if you're researching cyberpunk, or find it in a remainder bin then it's not a total loss. The chase that makes up most of the story certainly has a few thrills and spills, and you can revel in the challenge of trying to find something attractive about the four main characters, or at least something you can like a little bit. And there are those aforementioned "cool ideas" that might just, if you're my kind of geek, keep you going!

ISBN 0 7535 0380 8 First published 1999.

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