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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"In Apprehension How Like a God" by RPL Johnson

Appeared in Writers of the Future 27

In a future world where religion/magic and science have mixed in a curiously new/old way--packed with mages, computers, and Higgs bosons--Detective Conroy is investigating the death of Magister Musoke.  A sub-sentient artificial intelligence, Stromboli leads him through the Academy.  Conroy goes to interview Tommy Nagura, but he's also killed.  It all ends in an uneasy revelation with the "whodunnit"--a criminal impossible to convict.

It's interesting Johnson lists Asimov and Clarke as influences.  No doubt he read and enjoyed them, but I didn't get a similar feel.  My first thought was a William-Gibson-laced Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy although set in the future instead of the past, but of course, this may only be one of Johnson's writing modes.

The setting is rich, and the style curiously flips from high to baroque albeit not consistently strong.  The mystery reveal is cool but not necessarily one that readers could put together, which is typical of most speculative mysteries, including Garrett's.  A writer interesting enough to follow up.  He has a free ebook on Smashwords.

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