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In The Shadow Wars  author Rod Rees gives a fully elaborated secondary world of the highest quality.  If only all science fiction were so finely imagined and so well written,scifi as a genre would no longer be relegated to a secondary status, labeled mere escapism as it too often is.

The Shadow Wars is the second in Rees’s Demi-Monde Saga.  It tells the story of characters from our own world, the “real” world, who have been trapped in the highly evolved and very realistic computer generated world called the Demi-Monde.  This novel is a particularly thoughtful, literary example of science fiction and specifically cyberpunk.  For as we observe the adventures of the “real” characters in what is originally presented as an “unreal” world, we are invited to question the social mores, history, and prejudices of our own society.  It is partly the ways in which the Demi-Monde reflects not just our society but ourselves that makes this such a powerful work.  Many of the villains of our own history have been recreated in the Demi-Monde, and we have the opportunity to explore their atrocities and enormities, again questioning ethics in our own society and expanding our own ways of thinking about the world in which we live.  This is precisely what science fiction, as a genre, should do.  This is what moves the genre beyond being an escapist fantasy.  There’s something meaningful here.

While not suitable for young readers, Rees’s novel is particularly written.  Again, this raises it above the pulpy quality that is sometimes associated with both science fiction and fantasy fiction.  Rees is simply a really good writer.  His words are clearly chosen with such precision, and his style is clean.  Some may object to the swear words used, but they are anything but gratuitous.

I particularly appreciate good science fiction, although really good scifi is hard to find.  Rees has done it.  Although not for all readers, Rees presents science fiction and specifically dystopian cyberpunk of the highest order.

NOTE:  A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary or other compensation was received.