Ruff is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics both clearly and concisely. Ruff cleverly constructs UAS analogs to our western world: He prefaces certain chapters, for example, with excerpts from the Library of Alexandria, the UAS version of Wikipedia, providing the reader with a crash course in concepts like temporary marriage, the European state of Israel, and more… Ruff strings little teasing morsels throughout the narrative, as when Mustafa scours a bookstore looking for a suspect, walking by a stack of remaindered copies of “the post–November 9 best seller, now heavily discounted, Christianity for the Ignorant.”
But there’s more to The Mirage than a lighthearted game of spot-the-reference. The narrative moves to war-torn North America, where we are introduced—along with al Baghdadi—to the Christian insurgents fighting against UAS forces with weapons of terror. We meet the familiar figures of the Christian insurgence, and it becomes apparent that The Mirage isn’t just an object lesson in geopolitics; it’s a secret history, a magic mirror allowing glimpses into the effects of religious fundamentalism of all types on the United States over the last 50 years.
Full review here.