Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Infoquake by David Louis Edelman

A future Earth controlled by multinational mega-corporations has been a common backdrop in science fiction since 1952, when Fred Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth released the eerily prophetic classic, The Space Merchants. This fearful foreshadowing continued with the startling portrayal of a capitalist future in William Gibson's award-winning Neuromancer, and was satirized mercilessly in Richard Morgan's Market Forces (soon to be a motion picture).

Infoquake describes a free-enterprise future that may be the most alarming yet, due to its sheer believability.

Set in a future Earth that has survived an Asimovian uprising of artificial intelligence, all technology exists, at least in part, inside the human body. Bio/Logic microcomputers have extended human longevity and improved on every imaginable bodily function. Humans are always online, as their bodies themselves are internet terminals.

Natch, our protagonist, is an Ender Wiggin with significantly less scruples. His company, a fiefcorp where he is master to two highly talented apprentices, is on it's way up the corporate rankings. Then the opportunity of a lifetime comes along.

David Louis Edelman keeps the action coming at a breakneck pace, and despite the lack of SFnal tropes such as interstellar travel and space battles, Infoquake never lacks in excitement. The politics are fascinating, and the day-to-day juggling performed by corporate officers have never been so interesting.

I enjoyed Infoquake very much, and my only reservation would be that this particular future takes a bit of reading to understand. It's not instantly engaging, but the time required to immerse oneself is time well spent. The historical background mapped out by Edelman in the multiple appendices, along with the timelines provided show a world as rich with history as our own, and only rivaled in speculative fiction by J.R.R. Tolkien and perhaps George R.R. Martin.

As a softcover first edition, Infoquake seems an obvious frontrunner in the race to win this years Philip K. Dick Award.


Collector's Notes:

This is the first novel (in a trilogy) from an author who indisputably has loads of talent and more importantly, original ideas. That his first book is a trade paperback release ought not discourage collectors from picking it up. After all, Neuromancer was a softcover release originally, and the prices on those firsts are through the roof.

Infoquake does not appear to have a UK publisher, as yet.

An excerpt is available here.

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