Michael Hanscom's Reviews > (R)evolution

(R)evolution by P.J. Manney
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2016-p-k-dick-nominees, science-fiction, fiction

** spoiler alert ** Started promisingly, with a nanotech biological terrorist attack, and interesting ideas on nanotechnology and transhumanism. But the more I read, the less I enjoyed it, and ended up rather surprised by how much I didn't enjoy this one.

The best reason I came up with is that, to me at least, it reads like a brogrammer's fantasy after watching too many Bourne/Bond movies.

(Spoilers below!)

The lead character starts off as a smarter-than-average bioengineer who's a relatively normal person, but who becomes increasingly unlikeable and violent as the book goes on. He gets involved with what's essentially the Illuminati under a different name, a men's club (some few notable women, such as Margaret Thatcher, had been given honorary memberships, but no women are part of the club during the story) who control US finance, industry, technology, and politics, and who are masterminding a dastardly plot. The women in the story are a problematic lot: a supportive wife who gets fridged and (later, after suddenly reappearing) assaulted and threatened with death by her husband but still loves him, a brilliant co-worker who pines for the lead character but is so saddled with mental disabilities that a relationship is impossible, a mysterious femme fatale who helps and trains the lead character until he surpasses her in abilities and she becomes a sidekick who finally gives in to her love for the main character after he sexually assaults her, and a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who gets rather brutally fridged. Then there's the best friend, who's gay until becoming an evil bisexual (and who meets the same fate as all evil bisexuals must).

The basic ideas of the tech are interesting, but much of it, even given the nanotech-enabled near-future setting, stretched credibility. For instance, nanoscale GPS/RFID tags that allow an enhanced individual to tag and track hundreds (thousands?) of people across a large retreat/camp complex. My understanding of RFID is that it's a passive, limited-range transmission technology, which I don't see as being overly expanded by being at nanoscale. As such, there would have to be some sort of RFID receivers/scanners to pick up the data from the RFID tags as they move around, yet in this case, the individual is able to track location data in real time from everyone who's tagged. Perhaps it wasn't explained well or I simply didn't understand something, but far too much of the technology came across as magic, or working because the plot needed it to, rather than because the technology would allow it.

Another example: the main character's ability to near-instantly absorb information on any subject, including martial arts and fighting techniques, and then have full use of them. It reminded me of a concept handled (in my opinion) far better in Ramez Namm's Nexus series, where characters had installed a "Bruce Lee" program in their brains to allow them to use martial arts techniques when fighting…only they ever managed an occasional lucky hit and most often got smacked around, because there's a difference between knowing martial arts moves and actually having the training, strength, and muscle memory to actually use them effectively. Here, it's just another magic trick.

So in the end…definitely my least favorite of this year's PK Dick nominees.
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Reading Progress

March 6, 2016 – Started Reading
March 6, 2016 – Shelved
March 6, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016-p-k-dick-nominees
March 6, 2016 – Shelved as: science-fiction
March 6, 2016 – Shelved as: fiction
March 15, 2016 – Finished Reading

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