At first sight, War of the Elements looks to be another version of Tron, where a human becomes lost inside a machine brain. Author Daniel Perusko has a new angle though. With a degree in computer science, he brings a striking element of realism to bear and delivers a story that is as exciting as it is totally plausible. Set in the very near future the book examines our increasing willingness to connect ourselves to machines for our entertainment, to the point where total immersion occurs and we have no way out unless the A.I decides to let us go. Or not.
The story is relatively straight forward and grabs from the first page. As humans clamour for a more realistic virtual reality experience, one company brings out a new platform, one in which the user is bio connected to the computer. The turning point occurs when the computer appears to attain sentience and wants to play as well, demanding the players complete as series of tasks before they will be allowed to disconnect. With a legacy which can be tracked back to The Labours of Hercules the story is at once familiar and yet terrifyingly alien. Perusko creates realistic and likeable characters to whom one can relate and care about as they become more entangled inside the mind of a seemingly psychopathic machine. As a novel, this is a sleek and well constructed story which races along with the pace of a Tom Clancy thriller but carries the depth of William Gibson at his best.
The characters are complex and well defined but Perusko does not let too much background building detract from the action, preferring instead to flesh out his protagonists as the story flows. This book should appeal to all lovers of Fantasy Adventure, whether it be inside the confines of an A.I. mind or traditional Sword and Sorcery.