Kelly McCullough,
(Ace, 2007)

Let's look at the dramatis personae of Cybermancy, the sequel to Kelly McCullough's debut novel, WebMage.

Ravirn, a.k.a. Ravi Lacher, now known as Raven: A young, former graduate student in systems engineering, also an increasingly accomplished hacker, also a near-immortal descendant of Lachesis (see below).

Melchior: Ravirn's wizarding "familiar," a webgoblin who alternates between looking like a small, bald, blue man and a blue laptop computer; possesses a mastery of sarcasm and a powerful sense of loyalty.

Cerice: A beautiful computer programmer, sorceress and near-immortal descendant of Clotho (see below). Cerice and Ravirn are long-time friends, distant cousins and possibly more.

Shara: Cerice's voluptuous, flirtatious purple webgoblin, who sometimes converts seductively into a purple laptop computer. Also has a big heart.

Magaera, Tisiphone and Alecto: Collectively known as "The Furies," these three children of the goddess Necessity are the "heavies" or punishers of the Immortals.

Cerberus: The three-headed Hound of Hell who guards the gate into Hades. The three heads are known, separately, as Dave, Bob and Mort. They do not always agree, but they enjoy playing bridge with Ravirn.

Hades: The god who runs the Underworld, named after him (or is it vice-versa?). You don't want to meet Hades, as he will make you so miserable that you want to suffer in Hades.

Persephone: The tragically beautiful, unwilling consort of Hades, who spends three months each year in Hades (giving the regular world winter). She embodies tragedy, pain and sorrow. She wants out!

From the previous book, but mainly missing here, although mentioned:

Clotho: The Aspect of Fate who spins the threads of life out of the very essence of Chaos. Also, an ancestor of Cerice.

Lachesis: An Aspect of Fate, who measures and weaves the threads of life. Also, an ancestor of Ravirn.

Atropos: An Aspect of Fate, who cuts the threads of life, thereby signaling and/or causing death.

Eris: The beautiful, unpredictable, naughty Goddess of Discord, who is not all bad (or all good).

Ahllan: An ugly, fierce-looking, but caring and grandmotherly webtroll who might just be the key to Ravirn's survival.

In this fictive universe, magic, science and mythology are all equally powerful and equally true. Magic, as exercised by the gods and goddesses of Olympus, is now modernized, exercised through computer and Internet codes. Spells are hummed or whistled lines of codes and run through the "mweb" or magical counterpart of the World Wide Web.

Ravirn, who previously (in WebMage) opposed his family as they sought to decrease the chaos in the world by eliminating free will, starts this book, having been disowned by his family. He has even been stripped of his name, and is now known as Raven, a name he dislikes. But is it just his name that has changed?

Anyway, one other aftermath of his battle to protect free will is that his girlfriend's familiar, Shara, is basically dead. Somewhere along the line, Shara lost her soul and ended up in Hades. What's a boy to do? Well, Raven loves Cerice, and Cerice not only misses Shara like a mother would miss her child, but Cerice needs Shara to put the finishing touches on her doctoral dissertation, as Shara is not only Cerice's familiar, but is also a very talented webgoblin.

Raven sneaks past Cerberus into Hades and manages to sneak Shara out. Uh, that seemed too easy. It was! Somewhere, somehow, the act of freeing Shara from Hades has caused a major corruption of the mweb, and everything is slowly falling apart in the magical world. But is it really Raven's fault, or is there something bigger, more sinister going on? Raven, with his familiar, Mel, Cerice and Shara, dive into the mystery and manage to annoy, irritate or infuriate just about all the residents of Olympus.

The Furies repeatedly try to hunt down the quartet of heroes. Interestingly, one of the Furies, Tisiphone by name, has fallen in love with Raven and tries to seduce him in between her dutiful attempts to kill him.

Meanwhile, Raven starts to realize there is much more going on than just his change of name. What has he become? And can he learn to control it?

This is another wild, fun ride through the world of computerized magic and Greek deities. It is a bit more complex and darker than its predecessor novel, and the beginning is a bit disjointed. However, as Raven figures out who and what he has become, it is increasingly fitting that there is some disjointedness here, and even a touch of chaos. The Shara character has become more complex and endearing. Melchior continues his mastery of good-hearted taunting. Raven and Cerice have a lot of trouble figuring out where their relationship is going, and Tisiphone's attempts at seducing Raven do not help that issue.

Kelly McCullough continues his great writing, his fascinating fictional world and his marvelous characters. The puzzles are more complex here, and the danger level is definitely higher. Will everyone survive? There is some definite suspense related to that question, and it is not answered until the very end.

I look forward to the next installment in this series.

review by
Chris McCallister

29 December 2007

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