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April 2, 2007

Infoquake - David Louis Edelman

One of my Christmas presents was the Pyr trade paperback edition of Infoquake by David Louis Edelman. (In fact, as an aside, Amazon.co.uk blurs the line between US editions and UK editions so much that sometimes it's hard to spot which are US and which are UK).

There seems to have been quite a buzz about Infoquake, or maybe that's just because I read the blogs which have been talking about it, including the author and editor. However I'm afraid that I didn't like Infoquake.

The novel is full of ideas, including nanotech bio software, avatar style meta projections and cut throat capitalism in a far(ish) future world. However the style of the ideas felt a bit old fashioned, lacking sparkle, nothing to make me want to live in the world.

The story and characters just didn't excite me. Much of the novel felt like set up, with the climaxes lacking emphasis, and the ending fulfilling all my fears about the "part one of a trilogy" label. I felt that huge chunks could have been cut, the first part of the story in particular was uninspiring. The Ender's Game style flash back section was promising, but not original. It took until the last third of the book until the story picked up. The final set piece was entertaining with a nice idea at the core, but I'd have preferred more focus on that, which will presumably be the focus of the second book in the trilogy.

It's interesting to compare Infoquake to Air, which was the last book I read. Both deal with the dawning of a new technology, but with different angles. In Air, Mae is a helpless consumer of the technology. In Infoquake, Natch is the driver of the technology. You'd think naively that Infoquake had the better set up, but the execution unfortunately lets it down. Whereas I learned to love Mae, none of the characters in Infoquake I even liked. Natch, Jara, and others, I never cared about. Natch, the main character was particularly unlikeable, too spoilt, too nasty.

As for the appendices, please. A glossary? I couldn't even bring myself to read them. Can you imagine Neuromancer with appendices? No, of course not.



I think I liked Infoquake better than you did. I thought the world-building was fresh, and communicating a desire to live in the world depicted isn't a top concern of mine.

I do have a lot of concerns about MultiReal, especially the fact that it seems to be solving fundamentally computationally intractable problems en masse without any background being laid for what sort of technical breakthrough allows this.

If that isn't an important part of the follow-up, I'll be more disappointed than I am presently.

What annoys me most about Infoquake (apart from how a humdrum novel got so much hype) is the bizarre way the author promotes his new novels on Amazon like they are software or a sideshow. "See the protagonist do .... Featuring an action scene with ... Meet an exciting new character...."

It sucks out any interest I ever had in reading the sequel.