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4.7 8
by Jonathan Lyons

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In a surreal twenty-first century full of androids, binaries, chip trippers, NewSchool Grrls and Morlocks, black acid rain and StellarNet obsession, we meet Cage, a private detective down on his luck. Kicked off the prestigious Old New York Police Force after having gone up against Expedite, the most powerful computer corporation in the world, he is struggling to make


In a surreal twenty-first century full of androids, binaries, chip trippers, NewSchool Grrls and Morlocks, black acid rain and StellarNet obsession, we meet Cage, a private detective down on his luck. Kicked off the prestigious Old New York Police Force after having gone up against Expedite, the most powerful computer corporation in the world, he is struggling to make ends meet when fate seems to lend him a helping hand. Fragile Janice Gild comes to him with the story of the death of her brother James, a death so bizarre, Cage can only begin to guess at the method of the gruesome killing, and the motive behind it.

Soon Cage's path is littered with the burnt remains of a seemingly unconnected group of people. Only James' ex-girlfriend, the inhumanly lovely Jonny Cache, can shed any light on the victims who have been made to burn....

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Double Dragon Publishing
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Outside, it rained a black rain again.

Outside it was still dark, still the dirty gray near-night of the best-lit days of Old New York.

Cage paused in the doorway of Gotham George's, licked the cold, tangy rain from his upper lip as he mopped it from his hair, his brow, his stinging eyes. He'd lost his umbrella somewhere along the line, hadn't bothered to replace it yet, despite regional Civic Environmental Authority warnings not to venture out without at least level three precautions.

When he saw the flashing warning in the corner of the video billboard outside, he thought: Right. Drop everything and strap on a filter mask 'cause CEA tells us to .

His black nonreact trench coat, he noticed, had gone a dark ash over the past few months.

So much for nonreactive.

Cage had stepped into a new chuckhole in the walk between the office and Gotham George's, and his footfalls were punctuated with a cold squish every other step.

He ventured past the tarnished, brass GG logo, into Gotham George's and found Donatelli Three minding bar.

Old, old jazz, music from before Cage was born, filtered through the bar, a permanent cologne of cigar smoke and hydroponic tobacco 2942 and spilled beers from a hundred-plus trade zones filling the place.

Cage waved an index finger at the bartender. "One finger!" he yelled to Donatelli Three over some cacophonous sex-partnering gameshow Netcast. He chose a seat shrouded in some of the place's permanent shadows, away from where most tavern patrons wandered. Cage pulled off the ash-colored trenchcoat, draping it over the opposite side of the booth to dry.

On the 'Net set a timer counted toward zero, a pair copulating on stage before a live studio audience as contestants vied to replace them. The audience was enthusiastic.

Donatelli Three ran Cage's profile. "Laphroaig? A bit of the old medicinal spirit?" asked the bartender, eliciting a nod. The bartender's memory was as reliable as that of Gotham George himself.

"A double is only one more Ennay, Mr. Cage," Donatelli Three informed him, its conspiratorial-smile algorithm running.

Smiling the smile of friendly surrender, Cage waved two fingers in the air, gesturing for the double. He tugged his brown, texture-woven vest forward, loosening the double-Windsor of his plain, black tie.

As he mulled the peaty scotch in his mouth, he felt a familiar tremor along his left hip. He ignored the summons, taking another pull on the scotch.

Gotham George's was an all-hours joint, decades of sloshed drinks chronicled in lacquerlike layers in the ancient, worn tile of the tavern floor like rings in the tree cutaways Cage had seen in museums as a kid.

"Like to weather the storm, if you don't mind, Donatelli," he said.

"You always like to do so when business is quiet," replied Donatelli Three's smooth voice, a flat, nonjudgmental tone issuing from a small lamp near Cage in the dimly lit booth; Donatelli's lips hadn't moved, it hadn't turned from loading glasses and pitchers into a sterilizer ten yards away, and it creeped Cage out a little when his bartender multitasked.

When the tremor came again, Donatelli Three turned, looked at Cage, sizing him up, and said, "Someone's trying to reach your Personal."

"Yeah," said Cage.

"Do you think it's her?" asked Donatelli; still reading my profile , Cage thought. Not like I haven't told it the whole story a hundred times .

But his bartender prodded its regulars like this. It was in its programming.

Copyright © 2004 Jonathan Lyons

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Burn 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
BURN By Jonathan Lyons Jonathan Lyons has crafted an intriguing mystery set on our world in a not too distant future. He has taken current events and extrapolated a logical futuristic setting from them while adding multi dimensional characters. At the same time, he asks fundamental technology driven questions such as when does something totally technology based, achieve human status with feelings, emotions, and the like? In this future world, giant corporations run the country. The effects of global warming have come to pass, raising the world¿s sea levels and destroying major cities. Permanent fogs of smog have rolled in causing a perpetual acidic rain. The well to do have managed to flee to where the sun still shines, artificial islands created in places like the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Corporations caused it all to happen as they bought off the politicians and set themselves up to run everything. The biggest corporation around is Expedite, which among other things, is the corporate sponsor of Old New York¿s police force. The suits make the decisions about what gets investigated not the cops. Cage used to be a cop and was a pretty good one. He annoyed the powers that be, by investigating the death of Joseph Fuhlber, an Expedite computer scientist. The doctor¿s partner was also killed and both were classified as suicide. Both deaths were clearly murder and when Cage wouldn¿t leave it alone, he was booted from the force, nearly destroying his life. Cage is surviving, financially and emotionally, but just barely. Janice Gild who wants her brother¿s death investigated contacts him. The cops aren¿t doing anything to speak of and the dead brother has links back to Expedite. The man was incinerated in his own condo while in bed and amazingly, the rest of the condo did not burn. While vaguely interested and in need of money, Cage does not want to run afoul of Expedite again. He grudgingly agrees while at the same time warning her, that he won¿t fight Expedite if they don¿t want it investigated. Soon, he discovers that the crime scene has been tampered with and Janice Gild¿s brother was only one of several to strangely die by incineration. If it wasn¿t spontaneous human combustion, a rare event, then what is happening? Bodies begin to pile up and Cage slowly figures out that the only help may come from the missing android domestic Jennifer Four. But, Jennifer Four is not what she once was and has developed her own agenda and Cage may be interference to be removed. This debut novel (available in a variety of formats) is very good with plenty of action and multi dimensional characters. Jonathan Lyons deftly mixes in back ground information and social commentary without sliding into preaching. He adds some downright funny parts, which I won¿t spoil by revealing. This is a very good book and I eagerly await Mr. Lyon¿s next project which this reviewer hopes just might be a sequel to this effort. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burn is a creative look into all-too-possible future. Comparable to something from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Jonathan Lyons has brought forward a fast-paced and highly intelligent science fiction novel brimming with a solid mystery and highly accented with nail-biting suspense.

Janice Gild hires Cage, former police officer-turned private eye. Her brother, James, is dead. He burned to death. Janice needs Cage¿s help to find out what really happened to her brother. Maybe the only person with answers is the tough, sexy and independent Jonny Cache, ex-girlfriend of James. Up against the odds, and as more people burn to death, Cache and Cage join forces to figure who, or what is behind the spontaneous combustion¿s.

With gripping chapters, equally gripping characters, a carefully, well thought out plot, Lyons has written an impressive debut novel. Entering his world was complete. He is talented in his craft and I eagerly anticipate his next novel.

--Phillip Tomasso III, author of Third Ring, Tenth House & Mind Play
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is described on the cover as 'A Science Fiction Noir' and it is certainly that, and a dystopia, as disgraced ex-cop, now low-ball private eye Cage, and android Artificial Intelligence-enhanced Jonny Cache (formerly Jennifer 4, programmed domestic and sex servant) join forces to solve the murder of her former owner/friend who died horribly by apparent`spontaneous human combustion [as do three seemingly unrelated others in swift`succession]. The ecological disaster of a world they live in is dominated by Expedite, a ruthless giant corporation which virtually owns governments and privatized police forces, by artificial, fake food and drink, by day-long continent-wide twilight gloom, and by constant acidic black rain. Not a pleasant prospect. Lyons, a computer and Web expert, has projected a grisly and warped future American society suffused by the super internet and a caste system of the super wealthy vs. the vast underclasses subdivided by often illegal professions, bizarre cults and warped gender-personal social clusters. 'Burn' is Lyons' first novel, and it is an involving, gripping experience. He has created a convincing, detailed hell of a future and peopled it with sympathetic and grotesque denizens who are utterly true to their environments. The omnipresent StellarNet and the amazingly versatile and ubiquitous Personal (computer/phone/controler) is very impressive extrapolation. I hope there will be more PI Cage and Jonny Cache adventures in this fascinating, ghastly future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Burn, Austin's Jonathan Lyons takes the 21st century by the scruff and gives it a two-fisted knuckloid sandwich in the kisser. (Seeing as how the century is starting out so woefully it could use a good roughing up -- take that, you.) Lyons has John D. McDonald's Lew Archerisms down pat in this tale of Cage, a private dick and ex-flatfoot, predictably on the skids, who finds himself enmeshed in a futuristic power struggle involving Expedite (a global supercorporation), a schemey dame named Gild, and an ex-flame with uncertain alliances. Stripped of its sci-fi sheen, Burn might well have come out of the pages of Dime Mystery Magazine circa 1950. Tough-talking hired gorillas, free-flowing booze, and hydroponic cigarettes permeate the book like so much Bowery atmosphere, and while the storyline itself falls somewhat short of breathtaking originality, Lyons' hard-boiled style is right on cue. Come to think of it, I'd like to see the author try his hand at something outside of the purview of retro-futurism. This decent mix of James Ellroy via William Gibson is fun, raucous stuff to be sure, but beneath the cyber-trappings there beats the heart of a born gumshoe scribe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Lyons has written an intricate and fascinating novel -- one which blends the genre of science fiction and (classic) detective novels in a cascading and intriguing blend of narrative structures, plot twists, and genre (and gender) bending. As one who is not really prone to enjoy either run-of-the-mill detective or science fiction novels, I was fascinated by how well they work together with Lyons seemlessly intertwining the two in a way that supercedes 'static' genre catagories. While on the one hand, genre distinctions should be 'rules meant to be broken,' few have the skill to attempt this (preferring the safer, more economical route of stand-by, tried-and-true methods of narrative). Lyons, on the other hand, blends these two genres remarkably well and shows that science fiction can be complicated, political, technological, and mature -- all at the same time. This book is both a thought-provoking political critique and a 'page-turning thiller.' I could not rec
Guest More than 1 year ago
A futuristic work with sophisticated themes of capitalism in its final stages of thuggism and the globe in its final stages of life. Mr. Lyons keeps the future from unraveling us 21st-century-bound readers with old-fashioned suspense, corruption, murder, and a noir detective that has maintained a decent heart beneath the environment's and the society's murk.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed the plot (a regular who-done-it murder mystery), and especially the vast array of characters. From cynical Cage, who still retains a spark of hope for humanity; to the enigmatic, not-quite human Jonny, to the binary Angeliques, Yin-Yang. Loved the setting and visualization it presented - 21st century Old New York City meets 'BladeRunner' with the technology of 'Matrix' and William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' thrown in. An excellent read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Burn' is an entertaining, complex novel for fans of the sci-fi, cyberpunk, mystery, and horror genres - and even the hard-boiled detective noirs from which actors such as Humphrey Bogart have made their careers. It is an homage to the classics within each genre, encompassing essential elements of each and referencing the works of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Clive Barker, and many others. Yet 'Burn' is simultaneously a genre-defying story which intentionally transcends boundaries. Jonathan Lyons critically examines many hot issues, including: traditional gender roles, AI and the boundaries of humanity, white/ western privilege, transnationalism, and environmental commodification. Set in a post-environmental apocalyptic world with a brilliant, dangerous heroine, 'Burn' is one of the most beautifully crafted novels I have read, demonstrating the author's strong mastery of language, characterization, and plot development.