Ghosts of Tomorrow is a re-edited and rewritten version of 88, Fletcher’s first novel. Technically, you could say this is his debut, except that it has been revamped and re-released for us in a superior edition, which we all should be thankful for. Before I continue with my review, I must let you know that I’m not a stranger to Cyberpunk genre, I’m very familiar with it but this is the first time I’ve read any Cyberpunk in novel forms. For those of you who don’t know, Cyberpunk basically is a subgenre of Sci-Fi which emphasized the effect of high technology advancement in a low life or our current society, usually taking place in the near future from our own setting. In the case of this book, the year is 2046.
This may not be a genre that everyone loved, but for me who grew up watching movies, anime and playing video games, it’s a genre that I truly love. Here are some famous examples of what Cyberpunk is in popular cultures.
Movies: Blade Runner, Tron, RoboCop, The Matrix, Elysium.
Anime: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Steins Gate, Psycho-Pass.
Video Games: Metal Gear Solid series, Deus Ex series, (if you love this MGS and Deus EX series like me, you MUST read this book), Xenogears, and Watch Dogs.
These are a few examples of what Cyberpunk is that I’ve watched or played already and it should let you know what kind of story you’re diving into here.
Why haven’t I read more Cyberpunk? It’s simple. I had some reason to believe that the genre just won’t translate well into a novel compared to other mediums due to the high need for imagery that required very well written and easily understandable prose, while in other mediums I mentioned, those problems will be easily solved. Today, Fletcher proved me wrong. Let me begin my review.
Ghosts of Tomorrow managed to capture the impending sense of society’s plunge into dystopian and Fletcher did it with finesse. The story started on August 1st, 2046 and ended on August 8th, 2046. Yes, the duration lasted only a week but trust me, Fletcher showed just how much events could go chaotic within a week due to the implication of technology advancement. The story can get a bit dark and brutal sometimes due to how realistic and relatable the progression of the story if our society ever made it this far in technology, which I imagine will happen eventually, sooner or later.
“Religion and politics were diseases. Even money, that great builder of civilizations, was part of that sickness. Of what use are such trappings when you were immortal and could define your reality like a god? Reality was such a chaotic mess. One look at the news; starvation, poverty, and war unending. He would fix all of that. Virtuality was the answer to everything.”
In the case of Ghosts of Tomorrow, it envisioned how our world will become when the concept of Virtuality (short for Virtual Reality, duh) has reached perfection. I’ve come to realize I haven’t talked about what the main story is about at all, but if you really want to, I’ll have to ask you to just take a look at the blurb. It’s more than enough, plus, it’s spoiler-free! All you have to know is I truly enjoyed every moment of it because, in my opinion, Fletcher truly has told the essence of Cyberpunk in his story.
It’s not all dark and bleak though, there are plenty of light and humor conversation for a breather that truly made me grin and laugh. An example to prove my point
“Is there anything sexier than nerd chicks?”
“No, unless you’re Gal Gadot” – (This reply is not in the book. You can only read it here because it’s provided sincerely by me.)
Sometimes, it can even get philosophical and inspiring.
“Take the easy road and at the end, you will feel you have achieved nothing. Try the difficult shit and you’ll enjoy your successes.”
“Never forget your failures, they’ll teach you more than your successes.”
Fletcher has implemented plenty of real life internal conflict and cultures through the diverse set of characters in this book. There is plenty of diversity here, the main characters ranged from kids to adults and most of them have something to teach us. Griffin, that never gives up despite all his failures, Abdul, who struggled with depression and try to find meaning in his current life, 88, an autistic child looking for freedom, Miles, a genius who suffer from loneliness, and Archaeidae, a child train from birth to be a merciless killing machine literally, and many more.
Considering that this is stand-alone, it’s really amazing what Fletcher has done with his characterization. Every characters first chapter breathes distinct voices and personality right from the start. However, I need to talk a bit about Archaeidae, he’s the one in the amazing cover btw. Through his character, the book told not only Western culture but Eastern culture as well, specifically on the Japanese’s Way of Samurai. From the first moment I saw the words “daishō” “katana” and “Wakizashi” from the first page, I had a feeling I was going to love this character, and I was proven right. Arcahaeidae’s obsession with the way of the samurai is something I truly enjoyed reading and I can see that Fletcher did a lot of research on this. This brought me to my last two points, world-building and actions.
Both world-building and actions are connected to each other, with intriguing hacking, virtuality manipulation, and fast paced actions that remind me of Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriot. Remember that this is a stand-alone book, Fletcher doesn’t have a lot of room to work with, but personally, I think he did a great job. The final battle scene, especially the usage of rotating perspective between both opposing sides slightly reminds me of Abercrombie’s ‘The Heroes’ in Sci-Fi form, which is always a plus for me. However, the actions and world-buildings are also where I had minor problems with. The first 20% of this book, while necessary, are quite info dumpy, and I did have problems visualizing some of the action scenes. These two, however, are just minor cons, if you've read a lot of sci-fi novels; I believe it will be a better experience for you.
Overall, Ghosts of Tomorrow is truly a wonderful blend of Cyberpunk story that every Sci-Fi fans must try. It did what it set out to do, to tell a relatable and thought-provoking story, it shows exactly the implication of high technology advancement and its usage to our society and military warfare wonderfully. I haven’t read Fletcher’s Manifest Delusion series, which everyone keeps telling me to read. After this, I will make sure to remedy that within this year.