There I was, thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be nice to read a cyberpunk book right about now? And then, thanks to a timely retweet from the incomparable Carrie Rubin, this book came to my attention. It was like it was meant to be.
The Copernicus Coercion is a cyber thriller about two hackers, Brock and Kathryn K, who quickly find themselves drawn into an intricate conspiracy. This book hits all the cyberpunk notes: we have hackers with embedded implants that provide continuous network access, shady back-alley surgeons providing illegal cybernetic augmentation, super-powerful artificial intelligences that become eerily human, a group of gray hat hackers operating out of an old church, and most importantly, sinister plots by shadowy elites.
Naturally, I ate it up. If you like cyberpunk stories, you’re probably going to like this. And despite the requisite tech-heavy aspects of the plot, Scobie was careful to make the characters strong, too. From the interaction between the two protagonists, to minor characters like the hacker-priest at the church or even an amateur carjacker, most of the characters in the book are interesting and memorable.
If I have any complaints about the book, it’s that the ending felt a bit rushed, and the character who functions as the final antagonist isn’t as well fleshed-out as the rest of the cast. It’s not a major problem, and generally, I’m of the opinion that if the journey is enjoyable, I can forgive a flawed ending. And The Copernicus Coercion is certainly an enjoyable journey.
In another serendipitous occurrence, I happened to be reading this book at the same time as I was reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines. The issues Kurzweil examines in that work of ’90s futurism are explored in an entertaining way in this novel, so it makes a perfect complement. If you want a fun story that also poses some interesting questions about humanity’s relationship to technology, pick this one up.
[Audio version of this post available below.]