Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Infoquake by David Louis Edelman

New ideas in the world of science fiction are hard to come by, and to be honest, I’m not sure just how new Infoquake really is, but it feels new. David Edelman’s debut is about cutthroat economics, technologic innovation, and government control that are played out in corporate boardrooms, work stations, and product release presentations. Most importantly, Infoquake remains engaging throughout.

Far into the future, corporations dominate the world economy under the guidance of a world government. Humanity nearly faced extinction when it developed AI machines that ruled the world; in the aftermath science and technology were shunned as the world put the pieces back together. A charismatic and brilliant scientist changed this track by developing bio/logic technology, allowing people to harness programmable nano-machines in the body to revolutionize human existence. The world evolves into a ruthless economic system based on the creation of the bio/logic programs for the human body and mind with the usual power struggles between corporations, government, and the equivalent of religious organizations.

The corporation at the heart of the story is the Natch Fiefcorp, run by the Natch, a brilliant and darkly motivated young master with a shady past. The Natch Fiefcorp is on its way up in the world through any means available, and then comes the offer it can’t refuse – the key role in developing the next technology to revolutionize humanity. A technology the government will do anything to keep out of the hands of the general population and leaves Natch’s long list of enemies salivating for a piece.

Edelman has created a fully-realized future with many parallels to the world we live in now – the boom and bust, high-tech, high-rolling economy will be familiar to many of us, as are the questionable actions of corporations and the world government. But the real power of this novel is in the players. Natch is brilliantly intimidating and mysterious and Edelman is at his best as he delves into Natch’s past. We know what his motivations are, we know how he came to be this way, but do we know what he will do next? Balancing Natch are the apprentices Jara and Hovril and his childhood guardian. These characters all function in some form as Natch’s conscience – not that he listens very often.

At first I was a bit worried to see 10s of pages of appendices, including a glossary and history of the world – I feared that the book would bog down in technical terms and the need to constantly consult supporting material. However, these fears were not realized – the book is a remarkably ‘easy’ read with a good flow and pace. The supporting material is just that, supporting.

Infoquake is a futuristic corporate thriller of a different sort and the first installment of the Jump 225 Trilogy. The book is compelling and suspenseful while it stands well on its own, the reader is left wanting more, needing to know what will happen next. Edelman’s first book is wonderful debut and one of the best books released this year – 8/10.

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