More praise for
“A hint of cyberpunk, a dollop of Greek mythology, and a sprinkle of techno-magic bake up into an airy genre mashup. Lots of fast-paced action and romantic angst up the ante as Ravirn faces down his formidable foes.”
“One long adrenaline rush, with a few small pauses for Ravirn to heal from his near-fatal brushes with the movers and shakers of the universe, all while trying to figure out how to survive the next inevitable encounter.”
“Imaginative, fascinating, with a lot of adventure thrown in . . . Mr. McCullough has followed his first two books with a worthy sequel.
will keep the reader on edge.”
“This third book featuring hacker extraordinaire Ravirn is every bit [as much] of a fast-paced, energetic page-turner as its predecessors. Ravirn continues to be a fascinating protagonist, and the chaotic twists of the plot carry the reader through to the end.”
“McCullough has true world-building skills, a great sense of Greek mythology, and the eye of a thriller writer. The blend of technology and magic is absolutely amazing, and I’m surprised no one has thought to do it quite like this before.”
“This is the second book in McCullough’s series that fuses hacking culture with ancient gods, and it’s every bit as charming, clever, and readable as its predecessor.”
“It’s smoothly readable, vivid, and fun . . . highly recommended.”
“McCullough has the most remarkable writing talent I have ever read . . . Not satisfied to write a single genre or to use a subgenre already made, he has created a new template that others will build stories upon in later years. But know this: McCullough is the original and unparalleled.”
Huntress Book Reviews
“The most enjoyable science fantasy book I’ve read in the last four years . . . Its blending of magic and coding is inspired . . .
has all the qualities I look for in a book—a wonderfully subdued sense of humor, nonstop action, and romantic relief. It’s a wonderful debut novel.”
—Christopher Stasheff, author of
Saint Vidicon to the Rescue
“Inventive, irreverent, and fast paced, strong on both action and humor.”
The Green Man Review
“[An] original and outstanding debut . . . McCullough handles his plot with unfailing invention, orchestrating a mixture of humor, philosophy, and programming insights that gives new meaning to terms as commonplace as ‘spell-checker’ and [as] esoteric as ‘programming in hex.’ ”
“A unique first novel, this has a charming, fresh combination of mythological, magical, and computer elements . . . that will enchant many types of readers.”
“McCullough’s first novel, written very much in the style of Roger Zelazny’s classic Amber novels, is a rollicking combination of verbal humor, wild adventures, and just plain fun.”
contains a lot of humor and a highly inventive new way of looking at the universe [that] combines the magic of old with the computer structures of today.”
“Complex, well paced, highly creative, and, overall, an auspicious debut for McCullough . . . well worth reading for fans of light fantasy.”
Sci Fi Weekly
“[A] fascinating world, somewhat redolent of Zelazny’s Amber universe . . . The interface between magical and computer technology definitely tickles my inner geek.”
MIT Science Fiction Society
“This fast-paced, action-packed yarn is a lot of fun . . . weaving myth, magic, IT jargon . . . into a bang-up story.”
“McCullough has done a fantastic job integrating technology and mythology, and Ravirn is a wonderfully sympathetic protagonist.”
“Kelly McCullough has the hacker ethic and the hacker mind-set down pat . . . The combination of mythos, magic, and technology is great fun . . . Ravirn is the literary grandnephew of Corwin of Amber . . . If you like the Amber books, you will certainly enjoy
“It has finally happened. Someone crossed the genres of sci-fi and fantasy to create a magical world that has modern (futuristic) computer hackers . . . McCullough has taken characters out from the darkness of mythology and brought them into the light of this modern digital age . . . out-freaking-standing.”
Huntress Book Reviews
“The action kept me reading way past my bedtime . . . gripping and imaginative.”
“This is a wild, fun ride. It is perfect reading for any time.”
Ace Books by Kelly McCullough
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author
Ace mass-market edition / June 2009
Copyright © 2009 by Kelly McCullough.
All rights reserved.
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eISBN : 978-1-101-05136-8
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First and foremost, extra-special thanks are owed to Laura McCullough, Stephanie Zvan, Jack Byrne, and Anne Sowards.
Many thanks also to the Wyrdsmiths: Lyda, Doug, Naomi, Bill, Eleanor, Harry, and Sean. My web guru: Ben. Beta readers: Steph, Ben, Sara, Dave, Sari, Karl, Angie, Sean, Laura R., and Norma. Eric Witchey for the train question. My extended support structure: Bill and Nancy, James, Tom, Ann, Mike, Sandy, and so many more. My family: Phyllis, Carol, Paul and Jane, Lockwood and Darlene, Judy, Lee C., Kat, Jean, Lee P., and all the rest.
I also want to thank some of the many people who have worked on these books at the Penguin end of things and made me look so good in the process. My marvelous series copy editors: Robert and Sara Schwager. Cover art I love: Christian McGrath. Likewise, cover design: Judith Lagerman. Anne Sowards’s assistant: Cameron Dufty. Publicists extraordinaire: Valerie Cortes and Rosanne Romanello. Interior text design: Kristin del Rosario. Production editor: Michelle Kasper. Assistant production editor: Andromeda Macri.
the bright star at the center of my universe,
and in memory of Phyllis Neese,
my grandmother and one of my biggest fans
“This is a really bad idea,” I murmured into my headset.
Melchior’s answering chuckle came through the earpiece, its wire trailing down my neck to slide under the wing of the stylized raven on the back of my leather jacket. The raven that covered the laptop pocket, where he lay hidden.
“Shouldn’t that be my line, Ravirn?”
He had a point. Normally, when we’re teetering on the edge of disaster, I’m the one making the reassuring noises while my webgoblin spews pessimism. Not this time. The role reversal made me nervous. So did our location, floating amidst the wild, cascading colors of the Primal Chaos and our cracking target. Necessity.
The world-sized computer-cum-goddess and Fate of the Gods is the closest thing to an all-powerful, all-knowing deity the Greek pantheon has yet produced. When she says, “Boo,” other gods run and hide. Add to that the fact that the Furies are her personal system administrators, ready to tear any cracker—say, yours truly—into teeny, tiny shreds before delivering him to Hades in a bucket, and you get a feel for what a bad idea it is to mess with her.
With everyone from Apollo to Zeus terrified of her, why was I—a very mortal sorcerer and hacker—about to do just that? Lots of reasons, only a few worth noting.
First and foremost, Necessity was broken. Badly broken. The goddess is also a computer with all of a computer’s vulnerabilities. A really nasty virus had torn the hell out of her quite recently and very nearly destroyed the universe in the process. Since a small disagreement I was having with Hades had more to do with that than I’d like to admit, I felt a certain amount of ownership for Necessity’s current problems and a responsibility to set them right.