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FX Holden
Core Drift
FX Holden, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Core Drift is a sci-fi noir suspense thriller that features murder and revolution on a world watched over by an enigmatic AI, The Core. Fan Zhaofeng is a hybrid human-cybernetic citizen in the People's Republic of Coruscant colony. Five years ago, he was little more than a slave. Now he's a citizen. Three years ago, he was a soldier. Now he's a healer. Two years ago, he was a killer. Now he's a fully reformed member of society. Unfortunately, his past won't stay behind him, and his only ally may be the woman who is trying to put him away.
In Holden’s stellar second dip into the Coruscant series, readers dive into an exhilarating sci-fi mystery filled with expertly developed characters, unexpected twists, and a hint of forbidden romance. Core Drift is an inviting stand-alone thriller allowing readers unfamiliar with Deep Core, the first book in the series, to quickly feel at home in Holden’s dramatic universe. Fan Zhaofeng is a cyber—a hybrid human-artificial intelligence being with a cybernetically enhanced brain linked up to the Core, an AI platform that links all computer systems between two key planets. Fan is the lead suspect in a string of murders being investigated by Expositor Lin Ming. The more Fan claims his innocence, the more evidence surfaces that points to his guilt, and Lin won’t stop until she unravels the truth.

This sci-fi thriller wastes no time digging its claws into the mystery. Murder, threats of civil unrest, and debates of morality sprinkle the pages while a sweet romantic subplot between Lin and Fan provides readers the opportunity to catch their breaths from the high-stakes drama and stunning twists. Readers will quickly warm to this unusual partnership between suspected and cop: Fan’s mission to prove his innocence makes him a sympathetic hero, while Lin’s empathy and independent spirit leads her down a rabbit hole that will ultimately test her entire value system and loyalty to the government.

Holden is adept at guiding readers into his inventive universe. He clearly defines his world-building terms, and the convenient “Core Encyclopedia v201.b” serves as a resource for anyone needing a quick refresher as the story progresses. Holden has a lot to establish in the story’s opening chapters, which slows the pace, but, lovers of inventive action will relish the fast-paced incidents that bring the story to a wild resolution. Sci-fi fans will sink into this murder-mystery with dynamic characters and an unpredictable plot.

Takeaway: This cyber sci-fi thriller has a unique protagonist, vibrant world building, and thrilling twists.

Great for fans of: Rudy Rucker, J. Barton Mitchell, Greg Bear’s Queens of Angels.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A