Mala Ciudad


L1MA by Gustaffo Vargas

One of the surprise finds of Thought Bubble for me was L1MA by Gustaffo Vargas. Peruvian cyberpunk is probably a fairly unique genre and Lima is a unique book.

The principle character in this book is the city itself. Lima – a high-altitude techno hellhole. From the flat roofs (Lima is one of the driest cities on earth) to the forests of cables stretching across the streets like lianas; Lima is playground, arena and home.

Vargas’ art embraces the city. The soft dawns from the city rooftops, the dizzying perspective down to the streets. The dark and sometimes blood soaked basements.

Lima the horrible. City of Kings. It slaps you in the face and laughs at you. Then it smiles and caresses you. You love hating her and hate loving her.

Who dwells in this city? You won’t survive long on your own so you better find some friends. The gangs who haunt the back streets and rooftops, who stalk the markets are the best way to survive. The Pirañas, the Ukukus, Chavines and Dragóns, drawn from Indigenous and pre-Columbian culture. The design of the gangs is outlined in the wonderful notes at the end of the book where we see the mesh of street clothes and high-tech gear.

Within the apartment blocks and warehouses of the city the weird tech is hacked and traded. The Maguffin here is, well, a squid. Not the type that goes into a seafood salad. No, this is a cyberpunk squid and everyone is after it.

This is a wildly imaginative work. The world building is amazing, in just a few pages Lima comes to terrible life. If you like China Miéville, 2000 AD, Jorge Luis Borges or Moebius (and who doesn’t?) then pick up L1MA.

Find the author on Twitter and pick up your copy here.

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