on 15 November 2003
Amanda the pender (30 year old non-adult) plans a daring ride on a supersonic Maglev tube with pender buddy Vikram. Pender's have their own hip language like all teenagers and it is stuck to throughout every chapter with Amanda giving it an original feel. She has to get into the valley of God of Your Choice, a valley where they choose to live as farmers and trust in faith calling outsiders and machines sinful. Amanda lives in a relinquishment society herself but she finds Mathewmark, Sweetcharity and the other inhabitants of the valley unbelievably backwards. But maybe there are others who find Amanda's society equally backwards...
The book concentrates on the characters but presents a believable future where cryonic revival is possible, the brain can be replaced with electronics, immortality is a fact of life and artificial intelligence has been born.
For those familiar with transhumanism, the spike (or the singularity) and many of the associated theories, technologies and ideas might find it a light read like I did. For those who are not it might be an eye opener.
Using the simple story of adventurous and rebellious "teenagers" Broderick takes the reader towards transcension.
Winner of the Australian 2002 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Well, I seem to be in the minority, but this one just didn't do it for me, and not just because the plot appears to be recycled Arthur C. Clarke. Nor do I have any particular objection to godlike AIs (although this one seems to be just about omnipotent).
Rather, the problems lie in the style.
In the first place, the story is told pretty much in the first person, switching protagonist as events demand. These switches are clearly labelled, but often the story switches to third person as well, a mechanism I found clumsy.
Most irritating, though, is that the narrative of Amanda (one of the two main characters) is told almost entirely in her deferred-teenage slang, the salient feature of which is the omission of virtually all articles and prepositions, so that it resembles a sort of literally-translated Russian, only worse. I found it very, very wearing to read. Neither did I find Amanda herself a convincing character; it takes more to portray a musician and her concerns than listing a bunch of violin concertos accurately.
More interesting was the religious enclave that has voluntarily renounced technology, rather like the Amish; although they're referred to in the book, rather inaccurately, as Luddites (the original Luddites didn't have anything against technology per se, they just didn't want to be put out of work). A nice touch is that they don't realise that a lot of their environment is technologically altered anyway (like the obviously genetically engineered mule Ebeeneezer, who for me is the most sympathetic character in the book). I rather liked Matthewmark, as well.
But on balance, I can't recommend this. Don't take my word for it, read the other reviews.