~by David Louis Edelman
2007 John W. Campbell Award Nominee

Infoquake by David Louis Edelman was the fifth book to be chosen for the io9 book club, and was scheduled to coincide nicely with their Posthumanity special feature. Infoquake is Edelman's debut novel and the first volume in the Jump 225 trilogy. Other than that, I didn't really know much about the book before I started reading it except for the fact that I adored its tagline, "Hack the body and the mind will follow." Turns out the book was also a finalist for the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. So, even though I wasn't familiar with Edelman or his work, I looked forward to reading Infoquake.

Natch is notoriously difficult to work with, demanding impossible perfection from his apprentices. Many of his employees can't wait for their contracts to be over and even his head engineer (and probably only friend) can't completely understand him. A master of bio/logics ("the science of using programming code to extend the capabilities of the human body and mind"), Natch isn't afraid to play dirty in a highly competitive market and he is more than willing to be a manipulative bastard to get just what he wants. So when the opportunity arises to get involved with a project with the potential to shatter the bio/logics industry and change the world, he takes it. It's a dangerous and highly risky move, for him and his fiefcorp, and Natch certainly has more than one enemy who would love to see him fail.

It has been a while since I've read a novel that has appendices, but Edelman does it right. All sorts of wonderful information is provided for the reader who wants to delve deeper into the world but at the same time it is not necessary to read the the additional material to enjoy the book. There are a few minor exceptions, but most everything can be understood in context and there are some really cool ideas in Infoquake. (Although I will admit I did have a bit of trouble grasping the government structure.) However, one thing that really frustrated me was MultiReal--I just didn't get it. Now granted, none of the characters in Infoquake seemed to really understand it either. This, I think is where a problem might be. As important as MultiReal is said to be, especially latter in the book, it seems as though a big deal is being made of nothing. Hints are given as to practical applications, but explicit information is mostly implied rather than directly specified. Something just doesn't sit quite right with me about MultiReal and there is plenty of room for potential inconsistencies.

Overall, I found Infoquake to be quite engrossing. Edelman's writing moves at a quick pace although there is an occasional tangent or aside that seemed out of place; This would break the flow and I didn't understand the point of some of them. From time to time, a sentence would make me cringe due to a particular word choice or use of metaphor, but generally the style was good, especially for a first novel. Some of the plot twists seemed unnecessary if not unbelievable--without giving too much away, an example being the unexpected reappearance of a certain character--but perhaps more will be revealed in the subsequent books to explain things more thoroughly. It may seem as though I'm complaining about a lot of things, but I did actually really enjoy the book. I particularly appreciated the focus given to programmers and programming for one (Edelman himself is a programmer) and the field of bio/logics is one that I could see developing in some form or another; I am always interested in interpretations of "post-humanity." Edelman has some great ideas and interesting characters and I'd like to see where he takes things in the next book of the Jump 225 trilogy, Multireal.

No comments: