Immaculate Conception by Guilherme Solari: A Review

Immaculate ConceptionImmaculate Conception (Cybersampa #1) is a cyberpunk novella by Brazilian journalist Guilherme Solari. The setting is the megalopolis of Megasampa, a couple of hundred years in the future, a sprawling, dystopic city that has swallowed Rio and Sao Paulo, ruled by corporations, dark and divided. A brutal murder introduces us to Cascavel, the protagonist, a man with a mysterious past, multiple synthetic parts, and a film-noir-detective attitude.

Immaculate Conception is in part an homage to the cyberpunk world of Philip K. Dick, and references to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the story on which the film Blade Runner is based) are embedded in the story, as are references to other dystopic classics. These references help ground the story in a classic cyberpunk world without detracting from the new creation of Megasampa.

The world-building is solid, pulling from established cyberpunk and other dystopic themes, but the South American setting gives it a different life. The characters are not quite three-dimensional, but are as developed as many characters in this genre. The plot is a mix of film noir, classic horror, and dystopian sci-fi, and for the most part maintains its momentum and tension well. Descriptions of the locations effectively evoke the desolation of Novo Bronx as well as the shiny artificiality of corporate headquarters.

English, I assume, is not Solari’s first language, and while most of the writing is competent, there are enough mistakes in spelling, grammar and voice to detract from the flow of the prose. These could be easily corrected in a second edition of the e-book. My other quibble is the description of the novella on Amazon as meant for the 12-18 age group; the subject of the book and its violent murders, as well as the reading level, suggest to me the lower age limit here is too low. This may be a difficulty with Amazon’s classifications and not the author’s intent, to be fair.

Overall, I am giving Immaculate Conception three stars; it would have been 3 1/2 except for the language errors. I should say cyberpunk is not a genre I have read widely, and most of what I have read is by either Dick or William Gibson, so I may be a bit out of date with the evolution of this type of writing. Immaculate Conception is the first in a planned series called Cybersampa, and I believe they will find a satisfied readership.

The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are mine alone.

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