was released from captivity in
In a future northern California farm community strictly governed
by a council of unseen artificial intelligences known as the Dominion,
Tom Eliot is a dangerous anomaly, an adventuresome 20-year-old
who scavenges among the forbidden zones near the submerged ruins
of San Francisco. During one nocturnal foray, Tom attracts the
unwelcome attention of the community's overseers and unwittingly
summons a nanobomb that destroys his family. On the run from Dominion
cyborgs, Tom is taken under the wing of eccentric hermit Magnus,
who enlightens him on the violent history of the Dominion and mentors
him in navigating a frightening, Dominion-based virtual world called
the Stronghold. With his talent for subterfuge, Tom may be humanity's
last hope to walk a virtual "Prometheus Road" and gain
backdoor entry into the Stronghold and the power to cast off Dominion
oppression. Balfour's quirky characters and suspenseful narration
raise the familiar sf theme of humanity enslaved by wayward computer
technology above the level of the routine, making for must reading
for virtual-reality fans.
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