My next novel is a first novel, from author David Louis Edelman and the first in the “Jump 225” Trilogy: Infoquake.
Bursting with ideas, set in an undefined medium term science fiction future, in some ways, Infoquake, a first novel by David Louis Edelman, is very much in the classic mode of science fiction. It also has strong elements of the corporate thriller, post-cyberpunk and even post-failed-singularity science fiction.
Oh, and it all takes in a hypercapitalist future.
Some several hundred years after some very bad history for humanity, the world of Infoquake is at once very familiar, with its undeniably human characters, and at the same time, has that alien future feeling that allows a SF reader to dive in and explore a futuristic world. The action centers around Natch. He runs a corporation which develops bio/logics, programs that can hack the human body, ones perceptions, abilities, strengths.
Flashbacks in the novel allow us to see how this ruthless and indefatigable competitor was molded into the character we see. Events bring Natch into contact with Margaret Surina, whose family and ancestors are very much responsible for the re-welding together of society after that bad history several centuries back. Margaret has some more and new revolutionary technology, but in this hypercapitalist cutthroat world, she turns to Natch as one of the few people she can trust to deploy and use this technology: Multireal.
And thus hangs a tale.
This world of human-altering software infuses and changes the nature of society, with Edelman following through the implications of how this sort of technology would alter society. We get to see several different types of technology at play here, as well, including a method of virtual porting to other places which makes Second Life look like a primitive toy.
There is a lot going on in this world, and its clear that Edelman had a lot of fun writing this book. There are the titular Infoquakes themselves, for example, the ultimate and deadly crash of the world’s equivalent of the Internet, which complicate the plans Natch has set in motion. The novel leaves for sequels what these Infoquakes might actually be and what they mean. The corporate and economic politics in this world are timely. Like the best science fiction, it holds up a mirror to the present by showing an extreme version in the future.
It’s difficult to sum up this complex world, but perhaps if I describe it as “Wall Street (the movie) meets Vernor Vinge”, I can come close to capturing what the characters and the world is like.
I am surprised that this is Edelman’s first novel. It’s clear to me that he’s been thinking about and working out this universe for quite some time (there are extensive appendices in the back of the novel).
This is definitely not a first novel for those who have never read SF before. Like an old tagline for a collection of Greg Egan’s stories, Infoquake is “science fiction for science fiction fans.” In a climate where fantasy seems ascendant over SF, and every other book in the F/SF section of the bookstore is yet another new first novel about werewolves/vampires/faeries/demons/ghosts/wendigos in the modern world, Infoquake is unabashedly straight up 200 proof science fiction.
I look forward to reading the second and third volumes of the trilogy. If anything, like when I read Charles Stross’ Singularity Sky, I suspect that this first volume is really a novel that Edelman wrote so that he could get himself, and the reader, ready to read the *real* story that he wants to tell.