Flotsam Prison Blues is the second novel in the Technomancer series by Michael Gibson. I enjoyed the first one tremendously, so much so I wrote the Foreword for it. It's a mixture of action, comedy, and urban fantasy which I heartily recommend. Even so, it's not a book without its flaws and readers should be made aware of them.
The premise of the Technomancer series is it's 175 years after the Biblical Armageddon. After an attempt by a cyberpunk corporation to clone Jesus, God has abandoned the Earth and allowed demons to conquer Creation. This proved to be more difficult for the Infernal than they expected since humanity had the advantage of technology. Eventually, the demons won but the resulting world was one of cyberpunk technology mixed with a feudal despotism.
One particular human who is harder to kill than most is Salem, a 200-year-old Lightrunner (which is perhaps a little too similar to Shadowrunner), who was the only human being equipped with nanotechnological enhancements before the world ended. In this volume, he's managed to successfully convince the demonic hierarchy to ignore the fact he killed one of their princes last book but the price is having to pay an exorbitant tax for the humans who live on his land. Unfortunately, Salem can't quite afford said tax and he ends up getting thrown in the worst prison in a world ruled by Hell.
The book is an interesting series of misadventures from our protagonist as he struggles to deal with a world where absolutely everyone is trying to betray everyone else. Salem is a non-stop source of pop culture quips, much like Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. I felt it was one of the weaker elements of the book that Salem never quite seemed to be touched by all the horror around him and I'm pleased to say the protagonist gets a lot more development in this book.
We get a glimpse into Salem's backstory and the kind of terrible secrets which have driven him to try and pretend to be a goofball rather than the 200-year-old man he is. The fact he used to be a very different person adds layers to his character and opens up many new avenues of exploration in future volumes. The supporting cast continues to grow with Viking gods, succubi ex-girlfriends, an insane archangel, fallen angel wardens, and a Nephilim psychopath who makes the prison run at statistically maximized despair-inducing efficiency. Not all of the characters make it to the end but the sheer number of weirdos Michael Gibson has created for this world deserves a reward of some kind.
The primary flaws with the novel is it's a little too weird to always take seriously even when it's going for poignancy. Michael Gibson has a Joss Whedon-esque quality of veering from the silly to the soul-rending in one paragraph but doesn't quite have the same level of timing. Likewise, I was very annoyed with the causal murder of a major female character. Despite this, I still enjoyed the novel greatly.
As mentioned, this is primarily a humor book despite its abundance of action and there's an endless parade of pop culture references alongside oddball characters. That doesn't mean the book doesn't get dark, even very dark. There's torture, flashbacks to the near-genocide of humanity, and also periods where Salem isn't all that nice of a person. This peculiar cocktail is where the book is at its best, though.
I recommend you check it out.