on 27 February 2011
Fran McCallister has created a game; an immersive virtual reality game which the company she works for are looking to keep for themselves. Seeking revenge, Fran takes back the only copy of the game and enlists the help of Richard Cabot to help her keep the game from falling into the wrong hands. What ensues is a pacy sci-fi action/suspense adventure as Cabot and McCallister attempt to outrun and outwit those who wish to use the game to their own ends.
As the action progresses, the game begins to take hold as characters within the game start to think for themselves and the lines between real-life and virtual reality become increasingly blurred.
Despite its sci-fi basis, the novel contains strands of several genres, all masterfully entwined within the narrative. The paciness of the action combined with the romantic and mysterious aspects add further levels and intrigue. The characters are vividly drawn, their various flaws and quirks bringing them to life. The dialogue between Cabot and McCallister is witty and sharp as their relationship gradually progresses to new levels. In such a novel as this, it would be easy to deal with the characters as one-dimensional beings through which the plot is directed. However, Cash steers clear of this and the result of character and action is effortlessly impressive and superbly entertaining.
A cracking read and one which I would recommend not only to fans of sci-fi but also mystery/action thrillers.
The Xandra Function is a fast-moving science-fiction adventure, with plenty of surprising twists and turns.
The central character, Fran McCallister, is an intriguing creation. The designer of the virtual reality game Marjaalia - in which parts of the novel are set - she is one part 'geek', one part female James Bond. She is someone who has faced many challenges in her life - from a difficult childhood to her petite size - yet has gone on to achieve great things. I'm sure many readers of this book - men as well as women - will identify with her.
I wasn't quite so convinced by her lover, Richard Cabot, who is portrayed as a sort of bumbling 'everyman' character. I couldn't really understand why a woman as dynamic as Fran - and also, incidentally, another female character in the novel - would find him quite so irresistible.
Still, this is just a minor carp. The novel rattles along at an ever-accelerating pace, while the real world and computer game world become increasingly intermingled. Indeed, I started to wonder how it would be possible for all the loose ends to be satisfactorily tied up, but for the most part they are, though with plenty of scope for a sequel.
Recommended for anyone who enjoys intelligent, imaginative, thought-provoking science fiction.