Some times, the Kindle Daily Deal email can really deliver, and one day this month, it did with Alan Dean Foster’s Montezuma Strip. A collection of short stories originally published in 1995, it focuses on an imagined USA-Mexico border a century in the future. Here, “stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico,” is the center of techno-industrialization for the world. Like any such place, where there’s industry, there’s greed, and where there’s greed, there’s crime. And crime is the industry Angel Cardenas works in.
Cardenas is a Tex-Mex federal cop based out of Nogales. He is also an “Intuit.” Born with a heightened intuition, he is something of a living lie detector. Angel is able to pick up the subtle visual and audible cues we all give off, but rarely glean from others, and this, coupled with his experience and his own logical thinking, makes him a damn good officer. One who is in much demand when crimes in other districts are beyond the ken of local law enforcement.
From figuring out how two software designers were killed, or in Foster’s parlance, “vacuumed,” to infiltrating a protection racket masquerading as a religious order, Cardenas has his hands full in a world where First World technology butts up against Third World labor practices.
I found the world Foster created fascinating, on par with those built by Gibson, Sterling, Stephenson, Rucker, and others in the 1980s and ’90s. If you’ve ever read those authors’ dystopian science fiction works, you’ll feel right at home in the Montezuma Strip. Angel Cardenas reads to me like a prototype for Steven Kotler’s Lion Zorn. Given the current socio-political situation on the US-Mexico border, and the deteriorating relationship with China as an economic partner, Foster’s work from nearly two decades ago doesn’t sound as far-fetched as it might have when first published.
If you’re a fan of Alan Dean Foster, cyberpunk-style sci-fi, or just good characters and great writing in general, you won’t be disappointed with Montezuma Strip.
5/5 phins, I loved it.