The dated term of demi-monde betrays the opulent steam punk setting of Rod Rees’ first book under his real name. Literally, the French translates to half the world and refers to those who live conspicuously hedonistic lifestyles. The term was most commonly used in Europe during the industrial age, from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Though certainly a futuristic tale, the dystopian world of The Demi-Mode: Winter is rich in its Victorian opulence.
The vibrant settings are no doubt due to the author Rod Rees having spent his life traveling throughout Africa, the Middle East, Bangladesh and Russia, and then living in Qatar, Tehran, and Moscow. His medical background was utilized as he helped build pharmaceutical factories in Dhaka, set up a satellite communication network in Moscow and then as no doubt a tribute to his siren wife, conceived and designed a jazz-themed hotel in the UK.
A rich life can serve a writer well and after reading the first of Rod Rees Demi-Monde books, Winter I can attest to the value in his writing. Though his words are never gaudy they convey the vivid images he seeks to share. The style is easy to read but the conveyance is gritty and perhaps too honest for younger readers and probably better appreciated by those with wider perspective. The pacing however is quick enough for any attention span.
Demi-Monde, in the book by the same name, is the code name for a sophisticated and due to its artificial intelligence, an unpredictable computer simulation. The brainchild of the U.S. military, the Demi-Monde was designed to virtually train soldiers and prepare them for modern urban warfare. To add to its effectiveness, the Demi-Monde is in a state of eternal civil war, ruled by “Dupes',” cyber-duplicates of some of history's most notorious tyrants. As an artificial intelligence, the Demi-Monde teaches itself and adapts. How far the program is able to evolve is now the question that needs answering.