Booklist (starred review) on Strange Flesh by Michael Olson
Pryce, a former intelligence agent, is a hacker, or “social engineer,” for a secretive, global networksecurity
firm. He’s becoming addicted to “erotic social networking” websites (and getting robbed and assaulted in the process), partly because of Blythe Randall, an impossibly beautiful and insanely rich young woman he knew a decade earlier at Harvard. Blythe and her equally beautiful and rich twin brother, Blake, now control one of the world’s largest media empires, but their half-brother, conceptual artist Billy, has disappeared, and they hire Pryce to find him. Pryce soon learns that Billy hasn’t just disappeared; he’s mounted a bizarre scheme to shatter the Randalls’ empire, an online game based on the Marquis de Sade’s most depraved literary effort, The 120 Days of Sodom. In order to find Billy, Pryce must play the game.
Set in the very near future, Strange Flesh is compelling cyberpunk, filled with plausible cyberwizardry, clever wordplay, murder, betrayal, and heaping helpings of gamer culture and kinky cybersex. Olson skillfully portrays worlds few readers know: quirky computing and robotics geniuses; Harvard’s wealthy, privileged undergraduate royalty; and the surpassingly strange world of online gamers. He also introduces “Imminent Teledildonics,” sexbots that employ next-gen virtual reality for evelatory virtual sex.
Crimes, both high and low; bleeding-edge technology; and titillation: What’s not to love?