The Geomancer


Infoquake Lives Up to the Praise

The Armchair Anarchist has pronounced over at Futurismic that David Louis Edelman's Infoquake lives up to the "usual amount of praise and plaudits" that is has received:

"The hyperbole surrounding this novel seems justified – drawing on cyberpunk and singularitarian themes, it boldly places a banner for what is arguably a new sub-genre of science fiction. It may not be to everyone’s taste – fans of epic space opera or futuristic military thrillers might well find themselves uninspired by the lack of ‘sense of wonder’ and involved combat and battle scenes, and the nuts and bolts of the technologies at work (of which there are plenty) are rarely mentioned more than briefly and in passing. But in the light of recent debate over the comparative merits of ‘serious’ science fiction and the sort written with pure entertainment in mind, Infoquake sits squarely in the shifting and disputed borderland between these two poles of purpose. As an engaging fictional mirror of the modern world, written from an angle rarely used, this novel definitely marks Edelman as a writer to keep an eye on."

Earlier, the wonderful Paul Cornell, author of British Summertime as well as many other works - including new episodes of the television shows Doctor Who and Robin Hood - weighed in with his thoughts on Edelman's book:

"It stayed with me, kept on impressing me way after I’d finished it... Infoquake is a book about future boardroom battles, company tussles. Only three shots are fired in total, but at exactly the right time, because this is a thriller like Graham Greene wrote thrillers. Its setting is something I haven’t seen for a long time, a quite distant future that is nevertheless utterly plausible, and remains connected (unlike say, Dune), through history, to our own. The businesspeople in question write and sell software for the human body. The book answers Geoff Ryman’s manifesto about ‘Mundane SF’, that is, it presents a future where no unfeasible technology or situations (faster than light drives, alien contact, telepathy) exist. People are still people, history is still history. There has been no mythological upheaval (such as ‘the singularity’) of the kind that British SF culture seems to regard as certain, a near future event, the Revolution, the Rapture. Icky reality has not gone away. There are true believers, therefore, that will assert that the novel is simply mistaken. There is still money. Someone empties the bins. The world that is built is a society of humans, based on human needs, sociability, civilisation. It is not wildly far flung. It can read on first sight as being familiar, even parochial. That is because it is flung exactly as far as it should be. The thrill of the book is a thrill familiar to those of us who do business on the net and in fandom, the thrill of being a commercial (and this is the origin of the word) adventurer, someone who ventures capital. It’s about commerce and glamour, the edges and barriers created in social situations through nothing but personality. It’s conceptually exciting, the current expressed as the future and the future as a refreshing crash through the ranks of those who say there is none. The world depicted is not an ideal: it’s a complicated mess in which characters can only do their best. Exactly like it always has been and always will be. My one caveat is that when you read the first section of the book, you’ll wonder why I made all this fuss about it. It’s not the greatest start in literature. It prepares you for a book nowhere near as good as this one. And perhaps I could have done with a bigger conceptual wallop of elevating the stakes to a new level at the end. But this is the first of a trilogy, and I await book two missing the characters, referencing things in their terms (‘a memecorp like the BBC’) expecting such an elevation, certain of it. I have faith in this Mundane masterpiece."

Update: Steve at the Eternal Night website agrees:

"This book grabbed me from the start... This book though should appeal to a wide readership, and no one who likes futuristic Philip K. Dick-ish science fiction should not be put off reading this book just because it revolves around programmers... This book however is anything but boring - it grips you from the start and leaves you at the end of the book wishing you had book two to hand."

1 comment:

  1. A note of interest concerning Infoquake. While I could not find the episode to verify this, I am 99% certain that Evo Terra of the DragaonPage and Slice of Scifi podcasts gave this a glowing review. This book is quickly working its way up my MUST READ list.