Science fiction, as I often tell people, is not an easily defined term. There are quite possibly dozens of subgenres, from soft sci-fi (which focuses more on the human aspect of life in the future) to hard sci-fi (which focuses more on the scientific and technological aspects). There’s a whole range of ways to look at the world through the lens of science fiction. On the one end, we have the optimism of the original Star Trek, where humanity has essentially created a utopia and is able to explore the stars and see all the wonders the galaxy has to supply. On the other end, we have works like Blade Runner, where humanity itself is in question.
Amanojaku falls very heavily on the pessimistic end.
The nineteen-year-old protagonist, Andre Cross, works as a manual laborer, doing his best to keep his temper under control, though not out of fear that he will hurt someone. That has already happened; when he was younger, he killed and, while in prison, agreed to have an implant placed into his body. At the first sign of any aggression, the implant releases a flow of sedative into his bloodstream. While that does keep him from killing again, the sort of work he does can be very dangerous to do while drugged, and a single misstep could kill him instead. However, he doesn’t plan to be a laborer for the rest of his life. He’s been saving up his money bit by bit to get a ship to Anchora, where hopefully he will get a better life.
Everything changes when he encounters a PrePAC (read: android/robot/replicant) named Mo Da who stirs something unfamiliar in him. His obsession spurs him along a path that will lead to a cult, a dangerous mission, and the return of ghosts from his past.
Lutz does a masterful job of bringing Andre’s world to life, giving us a story with chilling ambiguities and a compelling protagonist who drives the plot rather than simply follows where it leads. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys gritty sci-fi and has fond memories of Blade Runner. Amanojaku will be exactly what you have been looking for.