Bear Head
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ibsn13: 9781800241565
series: Dogs of War - Book 2

What if you combined Johnny Mnemonic and Total Recall but the data in Johnny’s brain is a sentient “personality upload” of a bio-engineered war bear with 12+ PhDs? Also, there’s SuperTrump who’s using his infinite charisma to put chips in people’s brains to get them to comply with anything and everything he wants (yikes).

That’s Bear Head.

A standalone-ish sequel to Dogs of War. Taking place a few decades after the events of the first book, the world has begun to turn its back on Bioforms and Distributed Intelligences leaving Honey, HumOS and our lovable lawyer Aslan (also, Bees kind of) in the middle of all of it.

Walter S. Thompson (AKA SuperTrump), and his PA Springer, is using his power to put chips into people’s brains to get them to comply with his will.

And then there’s our bio-engineered human, Jimmy, who left Earth in hopes of finding a better life on Mars (I don’t think he did).

There’s A LOT to unpack here, and a lot of POVs. The POV gimmick of Bear Head is cool with Jimmy and Honey’s sentient personality upload occupying the same headspace (literally) and the story being told from his perspective and then hers. Also, Honey’s personality upload gradually “coming to life” by unraveling Honey’s memories to learn who she was and who she is now is great. But, it’s not as compelling or unique as Rex’s POV in Dogs of War.

The two beings in one head gimmick is really cool though (it’s so much better than Arkady Martine’s execution of a similar concept in her Teixcalaan series) but it’s impossible for someone as skilled as Adrian Tchaikovsky to keep one upping himself constantly.

I enjoyed Bear Head quite a bit but not as much as Dogs of War. The chapters told from the perspective of Thompson’s PA Springer are not as much of a highlight as the Jimmy and Honey chapters. Her perspective is important and usually adds to the overall narrative but we spend a bit too much time with her, repeating the same themes over and over again. Very early on you get the impression that Thompson is the devil incarnate, spending more time following his story doesn’t really do anything to deepen that past the first few chapters.

If you enjoyed Dogs of War, you’ll likely want to read Bear Head and get quite a lot out of it but don’t expect it to reach that same high.