The Keepers of the Contingent World
by Cliff Ratza
Lightning Brain Press

"Holy Jesus, the guys are down and out of it. Muffy’s crying and we’re both wrapped in the arms of bad-breath bums. Get ready."

The year is 2157, where the opening narrator declares in an anti-Melville tone, "Please do not call me Electra." From there, life and adventure unfold as Eve, Nari, and Electra (also known as Irani) navigate professional lives and an ever-changing, pandemic-ridden world. Readers follow Eve through a brutal attack that leaves her struggling in silence, fearful of sharing her experience with anyone. The book also heavily examines philosophies important to Western society, including those of philosophers like Kant. Meanwhile, the world grapples with the X-virus, and the heroic crew shuffles through the I-vac development process, which political connections have the power to expedite. By the book's end, readers have traveled through a multitude of evolving situations, where individual needs vie against the collective good, and the power of friendship and loyalty prevail.

For fantasy and science fiction readers, this book offers yet another unique exploration of the genre. Its subtle explorations of literature, pop culture, and philosophy make it an engaging read for those seeking an atypical storyline. A unique aspect of the book is its choice of heroines, who time and time again work to save the world from impending biological and political doom. The images of "lockdowns, and the wearing of masks in public places…now mandatory in all metropolitan places" make the book all too relevant in contemporary society. Therefore, it becomes the kind of book that leaves readers thinking, "What if?" It is appropriate for adolescent and adult readers, and this series could be a strong starting point for those new to the genre. Readers who have survived (and enjoyed) the dystopian realms portrayed in the other Lightning Brain books will be ready and prepped to tackle the one awaiting them in this book.

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