There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys. One of the worse guys is Val Toreth. In a world in which torture is a legitimate part of the investigative process, he works for the Investigation and Interrogation Division, where his colleagues can be more dangerous than the criminals he investigates. One of the better guys is Keir Warrick. His small corporation, SimTech, is developing a “sim” system that places users in a fully immersive virtual reality. A minnow in a murky and dangerous pond, he is only beginning to discover how many compromises may be required for success.
Their home is the dark future dystopia of New London. A totalitarian bureaucracy controls the European Administration, sharing political power with the corporations. The government uses violence and the many divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain control and crush resistance. The corporations fight among themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of “corporate sabotage,” uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its influence over them. Toreth and Warrick are more natural enemies than allies. But mutual attraction and the fight for survival can create unlikely bonds
As the days and weeks went by and I failed to write a proper review, I realised I’d made the right decision. Mind Fuck is a really good book but it’s not extraordinary.
In the dystopic future there’s the Administration. There aren’t really any nations, just regional Administrations and corporations that control people’s lives. This is a world where everything is monitored unless it’s not—to protect business secrets—and where torture is legalised.
That’s where Toreth works: In Investigation and Interrogation, I&I. He goes through mountains of paperwork, adjusts drug dosages and on an occasion handles the more precise tools of the trade. He also has irregular one-night stands under assumed names in hotel rooms he charges his employer for.
All in all, it’s a good life. Then he meets Warrick.
Just as Toreth has sold his life to the Administration, Warrick has tied himself to the corporations. He’s brilliant and just as emotionally challenged as Toreth is, albeit in his own way. These two men, they get under each other’s skin and can’t quite get rid of one another. Logic and life experience dictates that they must, but a convenient murder mystery ensures they can’t.
Mind Fuck is as light on the erotica and BDSM as it is on the world building. Still, I got the feeling everything had been thought through and that the author is asking the reader to trust her while she properly introduces the characters. Looking at the long list of The Administration series novellas and novels there’s a lot left to explore. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this to the fans of pure dystopia as much as to the fans of slow-burn m/m. The world and the predictable mystery only serve as a pale background to the characters.
And the characters are wonderful. They’re neither perfectly healthy, normal, or anyone I’d want to know in real life, but they are interesting. Their relationship is interesting. Their struggle to discern reality from the artificial and will to survive their circumstances is interesting. This story is interesting
If you don’t mind a narrative where the third person limited voice occasionally slips into first or that the story draggs from time to time, this is a book worth reading.