Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Infoquake

By David Louis Edelman
Jump 225 Trilogy, Book 1
Published: 2006 Pyr Books, 2008 Solaris Books

    David Edelman shows us that even a new author can be a master. His first published novel, Infoquake, journeys through a cyber future steeped in realism rather than artistic glamour. The characters are all people we've worked with, the story is one pulled straight from wall street and the setting is radical, honest and frighteningly possible.
    The big idea of Infoquake is bio/logic, the science behind nanotechnology in the human body. It's the driving force behind much of the free market, a scientific development melding physics, biology, engineering and computer programing into one industry. It's a powerful tool, and potentially a very dangerous one.
    Public government, secular religion and private corporations have also drastically changed in the aftermath of armageddon. Citizens join autonomous governments based either on region or political ideology, effectively abolishing the need for nation-states, though these civic groups still report to a central Defense and Wellness Council. Religion has been commonly replaced by Creeds, representing ethos and sets rules such as honor, liberty and selfishness. Finally, much of the business world consists of the bio/logics industry, made up of private and publicly funded memecorps and the free market driven fiefcorps.
    Natch is the master of one such fiefcorp. He is a cutthroat business man and remarkable programmer, using black-mail, viruses, and fraud as he climbs his way to the top. He is a cunning and charismatic young man with a terrible past and he wants only one thing: a new challenge.
    Natch is drawn into a political and ideological struggle concerning the mysterious phoenix project, begun by the creator of bio/logics hundreds of years ago. Natch draws the ire of the authoritarian Defense and Wellness Council, as well as rivals and enemies from over the years, as he tries to create a program that may free humanity from the oppression of reality.
    The characters of this novel are superbly crafted, taking realistic personalities from the modern computer industry and making them three dimensional. Natch isn't just some corporate backstabber - he's developed a conviction for success since he was a child. Horvil, a software engineer, has led a comfortable and complacent lifestyle and falls under the relative safety of Natch's lackey, but has his own aspirations and social outlets. Meanwhile, Jara is a fiefcorper that evolves throughout the novel, gradually building a backbone to Natch's daring schemes, but still indebted to the man for the chance he gave her.
    Technology in Infoquake is progressive and achievable. High speed trains web the entire world and travel to other worlds is done by either shuttle or, for the very wealthy, teleportation. The internet now revolves around bilogics, with cyberspace and bloggers as part of everyday life. New technologies of destruction exist, dart guns with black code and disruptors against cyber-projections, still being used against the few dissenters outside of society.
    Infoquake is the best book I read in 2008. It has everything required of great science fiction: technology, psychology and an enthralling story. Anyone that reads science fiction should pick this up, even if you don't prefer hard sci-fi. The concepts are simple enough for anyone to recognize in this age, the plot has enough closure to make it stand alone, and the pay-off for reading this book is immense.

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