**This book was reviewed via Netgalley/Independent Request
Collopy’s The Phoenix Cycle is an intense leap into a dystopic world unlike any other. The earth has been struck by a meteor, causing nuclear winter. In the city of New San Francisco, society has become divided into an elite caste, the Inner Circle, and a lower caste that lives in sectors sprawled around the Inner Circle complex. One such sector is Edingburg.
We follow Steve, a member of the resistance, as he prepares to make a decision about trying to join the Inner Circle. He is part of the current Phoenix Cycle, who are eligible to take the tests to ascend and be ‘recast’. For women, this means being willing to pleasure any male of the elite, in exchange for luxury. For males, it means joining one of the Inner Circle’s mercenary groups and surviving training. Members of the resistance convince Steve to join and be an inside agent. However, they have big things planned to interfere with the Phoenix Cycle trials. The training is a perfect time to create chaos.
We also follow Johnny, mayor of Edingburg, one of the poorest sectors. He has been accused of treason, and sent to Alcatraz (no, it’s not reopened!), to be questioned regarding his ties to the resistance. Along the way Johnny must face his inner demons. The question is, can he survive? The resistance itself is full of colourful characters, from the cybernetic Nikolai, to the quite mad Ramfort. I have to admit, Ramfort is my favourite. He serves as a guide to Steve through much of the story.
This book needs to be required reading for any introductory philosophy class. Within is encapsulated the beliefs and tenets of numerous philosophic paths, from Socrates to Nietzsche, and all between. Picking out which characters represented which philosophies was half the fun for me. Collopy does a masterful job of weaving these oft disparate views together, making each character an archetype in themselves. As you go through, you see how things can be opposites, mirrors of one another, yet they are still all connected. One should read The Phoenix Cycle more than once to get full value.
Haha, this story would make a great Final Fantasy installment! That’s how it wove itself in my mind. I’d certainly love to play that game! Ramfort would be my front-runner!
???? If enjoyed the show Caprica, deeply philosophical games like the later Final Fantasy installments, or stories like The After War by Brandon Zenner, you are sure to enjoy The Phoenix Cycle.