Monday, May 20, 2002
Author: Jon Courtenay Grimwood
redRobe is another book by Jon Courntenay Grimwood, once again fitting into his whole alternative time line future extraction thing as set up in neoAddix and concluded by reMix. Essentially the story of Axl Borja, an orphaned kid on the streets of a Mexico which has been run by Austria. Taken in by a priest who has risen to become the countries leading Cardinal, Axl became one of the core characters in a reality television show - warChild. As a celebrity killer he was involved in skirmishes around the world, but the toll of violence and drug abuse led to burn out and a fall from grace. Working in a burger bar Axl gets involved in one last hit, the fall out from which leads him back to the Cardinal and the choice of taking on a mission for him or facing a death sentence.
The pope is dead and all the money that the now corporate Vatican had has vanished with her, the trail leading with a stream of refugees to an artificial holy land run by the Dalai Lama and religious AI. Which is where a severely beaten and blinded Axl finds himself, painfully under cover and on a mission. Add in an artificial intelligence that used to be Axl's gun, a Japanese kinderwhore who is here against her will, the pope's sister and troupe of Worldbank/UN special forces soldiers who are also on a mission and everything could just go horribly wrong. In some ways redRobe dwells too much on it's central character, and for a lot of the book it doesn't feel like he is particularly well fleshed out - though as it goes on the back history becomes more apparent. Giving more time to Mai the kidnapped whore would probably have been useful, striking the reader as having more potential than is actually delivered - though it could be argued that maintaining a certain distance from her gave us more of a perspective in common with Axl. Again hi-tech, designer clad, and drug fuelled sci-fiction which is pretty readable despite any niggles I may have remaining about this earlier work by Grimwood.