The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy

‘You are the best stock this Phoenix Cycle could hope to reap!’

Picture this.  The world has been ravaged by storms of ash and debris.  Only one city has survived: New San Francisco.  New San Francisco has survived because it is ruled by the General.  He has ensured that the people of New San Francisco understand that there is no room for weakness, no room for pity.  The city is ruled by the Inner Circle, and Steve and Leslie have a chance to join that Inner Circle.  It’s a once in a life chance to apply, and if they don’t they’ll be condemned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg.

There is another possibility.  There is opposition to the General.  A revolutionary army, known as the IRA, led by a voice known as ‘Mom’ is trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco.  Steve will choose one path, and Leslie the other.

What follows is an interesting and busy dystopian tale.  The IRA wants a famous philosophical speech broadcast.  Many will die trying to do this, but is anyone listening?  The novel follows the main characters in a world that has been largely destroyed by the effects of environmental disasters and war, where the government keeps most people in a captive virtual reality.  There’s not enough detail to work out how all this happened, but there’s enough connection to the current world to make much of it believable.

A dystopian environment with philosophical characters –  there are several aspects to this story.  It’s not a straightforward narrative: some aspects are delivered by journal entries and broadcasts.

I’ll need to reread this novel.  I wonder whether the the Department of Smoke has been able to exert any influence over the final manuscript?  I know that the version I read is not the final version…

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Bob Collopy for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith