Following The Autonomous Revolution that pitted humanity against intelligent machines, Earth entered a Second Dark Age. Science and technology were shunned and survivors surrendered their freedom to austere religious governments. But, despite their autocratic rule, not even these organizations could hold back the march of progress and, eventually, the planet entered an age known as The Reawakening in which technology once again assumed its place in a developing society by means of a system called Bio/logics.
Life is now complimented by untold tiny nanobots coursing through the human body, designed to help regulate everything from health to leisure. Organizations known as fief corps create software for the general populace that extend and modify physical and mental ability.
Natch, our protagonist, is the owner of a company called Natch Personal Programming Fiefcomp. He is an exceptional programmer and opportunistic businessman who, with the assistance of his development team, aims to unseed his rivals, the Patel Brothers, from the number one Primo ranking (sort of a billboard hot 100 for software – or wordpress blog ranking). He succeeds – through a little subterfuge – and briefly secures the #1 ranking before immediately losing it again. But that brief moment at the top wins him the attention of Margaret Surina, matriarch of the revered Surina clan and the Surina Perfection Memecorp. She enlists Natch’s help to develop and release a mysterious new program called MultiReal.
In three days, Natch must develop MultiReal and get it ready for launch, keeping ahead of prospective rivals and hidden enemies, scrambling to achieve his goal under the ominous shadow of the Infoquake, a “lethal burst of energy that’s disrupting the bio/logic networks and threatening to send the world crashing back into the Dark Ages.”
Infoquake is an astonishingly original first novel by web-programmer David Louis Edelman. Its focus is not on alien invasion or interstellar conquest or even run and gun action but on the cut-throat business of software development and marketing. And the author does a wonderful job of world-building, fashioning a highly-detailed history to compliment his complex society. On the one hand, this thoroughly immerses the reader in a future-world unlike any other. On the other hand, however, the originality of the setting and background demand a fair amount of exposition that occasionally risks overwhelming the reader as well.
To his credit, Edelman attempts to minimize the confusion by engaging in a little narrative time-tripping. The first part of the book introduces us to Natch, his team, and the free market system of Bio/logics. The second part focuses on Natch’s past, his youth in the hive academy, and the brutal initiation that shaped his later years and won him the enmity of a fellow young rival. The third and fourth parts bring us back to the present where Natch and co. rush to complete MultiReal, enlisting the financial backing of an unlikely ally and staying one step ahead of the enigmatic Len Borda and his Defense and Wellness Council who, it is rumored, will stop at nothing to ensure the groundbreaking software never make it to launch.
Of the four aforementioned sections, the one I found most interesting also, unfortunately, served to amplify one problem I had. While I love the second part of the book for its emphasis on academy life (in many ways reminding me of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game), I found myself disliking the character of Natch. Right off the bat, Natch is introduced as an anti-hero, a savvy but devious businessman who will stop at nothing to attain that prized Primo top spot. And, while the glimpse into his past certainly does flesh out the character and give us a better understanding of who he is and who he will become, he nevertheless comes off as selfish and even a little petulant.
Still, as a whole, Infoquake achieves in doing something much contemporary scifi is hardpressed to do: pull of a fresh and wholly original concept. The book is the first in a trilogy and, while I would have preferred a tighter resolution to this opening entry, I look forward to checking out the rest of the series.
So what did you all think? Weigh in with your comments – and questions. Author David Louis Edelman will be dropping by to hear what you have to say – and respond.
What a day! We were on Icarus Base shooting a couple of HUGE scenes featuring Rush, Young, Scott, Chloe, Eli, Telford, Senator Armstrong, Dr. Damji, Lt. James, Sgt. Riley, Park, Brody, and Franklin. The set is spectacular, I’m loving the new gate set-up, and, surprise surprise, really loving those Icarus military uniforms. Stylin’! Chatted with David (Blue) and Brian (J. Smith), told them how terrific they were in the dailies we watched over lunch, then promised to say a special hello from them to their folks who have apparently dropped by the blog (specifically, Brian’s mom and David’s dad). So hi to Mrs. Smith and Mr. Blue. Your kids are lovely and wonderfully talented. We’re taking great care of them and promise to return them in approximately a decade or so, whenever the show has run its course.
Andy Mikita, directing the three-parter, is running a tight ship – but everyone is enjoying themselves immensely. I got some nice behind-the-scenes pics of Bobby and Justin along with “the actor playing Telford” (not sure if his identity has been announced yet but I have to say – and did say – I’ve enjoyed his work, especially his performance in my very favorite Mark Wahlberg movie. And, no, it’s not the movie you’re thinking of. Or the next one. Or the one after that.).
Speaking of announcements, apparently TPTB are just getting their ducks in a row in preparation for the big announcement that should be coming…very soon.
A truly phenomenal cast!