Gaby's Reviews > The Demi-Monde: Winter

The Demi-Monde by Rod Rees
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Jan 25, 12

bookshelves: technothriller, fantasy

The Demi-Monde: Winter is combines an unusual computer fantasy theme with an alternate reality. While it combines concepts from futuristic movies, the execution is fresh and extremely effective.

The US government created the computer fantasy world in order to train soldiers to adjust to the stress of "asymmetric warfare" or those "wars without honor and that the U.S. Army is not good at fighting." The soldiers enter this alternate world which changes quickly and unpredictably and although the alternate reality is merely a simulation, the soldiers are fully immersed and if they somehow die in the Demi-Monde they are unable to return to reality. (Think of Avatar, Matrix, Virtuosity, etc.)

To make the Demi-Monde challenging and a good training exercise, the military has incorporated several of the world's most harmful and dangerous characters who have been recreated and given life. Rod Rees avoids the obvious demons of Hitler, Stalin, Henry VIII, Robespierre, Ivan the Terrible, etc. and instead incorporates their staffers, the architects that created, organized, and made possible horrific acts of genocide. These unique characters give the Demi-Monde its unique character and add a layer of The Demi-Monde is given specific limitations, such as the restriction of the level of technological development: the Demi-Monde is stuck in the time before computers, etc. In order to ensure that there is asymmetric warfare, the computer (ABBA) is has unlimited processing power, is able to learn, and able to make changes, somewhat reminiscent of the computer system in the Terminator series. In the Demi-Monde there are thirty million "dupes" that are modeled after real people.

Fortunately, the most developed characters in the Demi-Monde so sympathetic and interesting that one starts to care about them and their welfare early on. There's Ella who comes from our world. She's a singer, athletic, a quick study, an academic star, African American, and broke. She's offered a million dollars to go into the Demi-Monde on a rescue mission. To give her a sense of the Demi-Monde, her interviewers "summon" one of the most powerful and dangerous characters from the Demi-Monde. She's struck by the level of his disdain for her as a black woman and although she knows that he's not "real", he scares her. And as she decides to enter the Demi-Monde, one sympathizes with her and cheers her on.

As an alternate reality, the Demi-Monde is complex and fascinating. As a novel The Demi-Monde: Winter is nuanced, witty, engaging and a wonderful read.

ISBN-10: 0062070347 - Hardcover $26.00
Publisher: William Morrow; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011), 528 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
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