2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down these mean cyberstreets surfs a nerd...and mean things happen to him
So, Pittsburg has been destroyed and we are living in a super-Google world where adverts are beamed direct to the retina and we are all wired up. In a super-Amazon fashion, the web knows what you like more than you do-if your eyes always linger towards curvy brunettes, then you get lots of ads for...etc. So, the people of Pittsburg can still be viewed via their traces and...
Published 1 month ago by IAN CAMERON-MOWAT
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare future world
The main character is a man called John Dominic Blaxton and he is one of the survivors of a blast that reduced his city to rubble - he is also mourning the death of his wife, Theresa, and their unborn child and spends much of the book trying to find a way to bring Theresa back. The author conjures up a nightmare futuristic world where technology is very powerful but not...
Published 1 month ago by Meerkat
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down these mean cyberstreets surfs a nerd...and mean things happen to him,
So, Pittsburg has been destroyed and we are living in a super-Google world where adverts are beamed direct to the retina and we are all wired up. In a super-Amazon fashion, the web knows what you like more than you do-if your eyes always linger towards curvy brunettes, then you get lots of ads for...etc. So, the people of Pittsburg can still be viewed via their traces and images in the web.
The action starts in hard-boiled US detective style-nerd with problems is hired by rich and powerful man to find the images of a woman from Pittsburg pre-disaster; she is gone and even her images are disappearing. As sometimes happens, I never quite worked out why richman needs nerd.
Then, all sorts of electronic and physical excitement and violence. Love stories, mysterious beautiful oriental lady, "find my Zelda" style detectives story, "who is really on whose side" spy-type story, then complicated, surprising and rather dark resolution.
All brilliantly done-couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars A solidly entertaining sci fi debut,
When thousands die in a tragedy does the death of one more victim mean anything? That’s the jumping off point for Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch. In near future America a bomb levels Pittsburgh. The entire US is consumed by grief at the scale of the atrocity. Using the latest technology to create a virtual representation of the city, an electronic archive is created to recapture all events in the city leading up to its final moments.
John Blaxton works within this archive. Once an academic, the loss of his family during the bombing has motivated him to become a researcher to try and help put back together the jigsaw of ruined lives that has been left behind. He is completely consumed by the events of a decade ago. In his job he spends countless hours replaying every day events, tracking virtual ghosts in the virtual city. You can’t help but feel for Blaxton, he’s little more than a ghost himself. Stuck in a grey half-life, a self-imposed limbo, he is unable to let go of his past, unwilling move on.
Blaxton’s ongoing investigations lead him in some dark directions and it’s not long before he discovers that there is far more going on with the body in the mud than initially appears. This is a crime within a crime, and the writing intricately weaves an engrossing conspiracy for the reader to uncover. The final revelations are suitably shocking, I’ll admit even I was a little surprised just how nasty some of the moments in the plot are. Upon reflection however the tone of the ending does fit is well with its dark subject matter.
There seems to be a flurry of new future science fiction appearing on our shelves of late. Recently I read Skinjob by Bruce McCabe and it touches upon some similar themes. Both track the fallout from a terrorist bombing. The difference between the two is that where Skinjob picks up events immediately after a tragedy Tomorrow and Tomorrow is more focused on their long term legacy.
There is a danger that any plot focussed on such a horrific catalyst has the potential to become maudlin or downbeat, but I didn’t really experience that. Yes, there are undoubtedly a plethora of bittersweet moments peppered throughout the narrative and they do add extra poignancy to events, but there is also ultimately a sense of hope. In many respects this novel is about Blaxton learning to live again, learning how to make peace with the ghosts of the past, and accept them.
In the background of the main narrative, Sweterlitsch dissects the intrusion of mass media and how it impacts daily life. Adware in particular is an intriguing concept. It’s the next generation of the Internet, an unobtrusive device that is directly wired into the wearer’s brain allowing constant 24/7 access to the web. Social media, targeted marketing and location specific advertisements appear directly in a user’s field of vision. Think something along the lines of Google Glass extrapolated to the nth degree and you’ll get the idea. Elsewhere some of what passes for entertainment in Sweterlitsch’s vision of America is reminiscent of moments from films like The Running Man, Minority Report or Robocop, everything from public executions presided over by the President, to reality TV where the winner gets to bed their favourite movie starlet.
This is an interesting debut, far more introspective than I think I was expecting. Sweterlitsch deftly picks apart the trauma of his main protagonist and explores the nature of obsession and loss. If you’re looking for an engrossing thriller with some nice sci-fi flourishes you need look no further. Be warned however, this one is going to leave an impression and its going to make you think.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent combination of thriller and SF set in a dark and dirty near future,
This review is from: Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Hardcover)
The near future is a dark and dirty place, especially for those few who survived the nuclear blast that turned Pittsburgh and its inhabitants into ash. In a society in which adware is fed directly into the brain and eyes, virtual reality is as real as the physical world - every glance, every desire is met by suggestive images, inviting the thinker to make a purchase, take a decision, get a thrill. Every scene that has been filmed is captured in the Archive, which allows the obsessed the perfect means to spend hours and days reliving the past, feeding the grief of Pittsburgh, reliving time with lost loved ones, making believe that the flash of light and heat never happened. John Dominic Blaxton was away from Pittsburgh when the bomb claimed his wife and unborn child. He now spends his days searching for ghosts in the Archive, looking for the murdered, the victims that others are working just as hard to delete from history.
Dominic is a fascinating character and he drives Tomorrow and Tomorrow. The fact that he is suffering is obvious. His is a portrait in grief and it's a masterly one. He tries to relive over and over moments with his wife, resetting the clock, rewinding and repeating, constantly. Not surprisingly, it drives him to madness and drugs and breakdown, resulting in his dismissal from his job searching for mysteries in the Archive, particularly a young girl, found dead in mud. Her identity had been erased, clues found only by investigating what is missing from the Archive, tracing the trail of lost pixels. Finally clean again, Dominic is hired by mogul Waverly to hunt for his daughter Albion, another victim of the bomb, but another young woman who is being systematically erased from the record.
To say that the case is not straightforward is the mightiest of understatements and it's not long before Dominic is on the run for his life, leaving a trail of the tortured and murdered in his wake.
The mystery that Dominic becomes committed to solve is only one half of Tomorrow and Tomorrow. It is an exciting and twisty hunt, ingeniously mapped out, but the significant achievement of the novel is both the portrait of Dominic and the world-building. Dominic is surrounded by a host of characters, some dead, some alive, some not who he thinks they are, and they are all richly hinted at. This is a chase, told in the present tense, increasing the immediacy and the danger, and so we never know more than Dominic himself. But what we are given is a thorough and beautifully written portrait of our main protagonist, a man who is only just holding on and is in dire need of leaving his past where it belongs. It's extremely moving and it's impossible not to feel greatly for Dominic. But, as the novel makes clear time after time, Dominic is just one of many who suffers from what happened in Pittsburgh, not to mention all those lost burned souls.
For many, pornography has become the choice method of escape. Nothing is sacred. The murdered become objects of titillation on reality TV, the rights to the bodies sold by their families. The female President of the United States is little more than a glamorous executioner, signing the warrants of death live on TV in front of the condemned, followed by scandal and all the more popular and electable for it. There's no doubt about it - this is distasteful stuff, but it is not done salaciously. Thomas Sweterlitsch is a fine writer and he walks the line between what is acceptable and what isn't very well (I am a most squeamish reader and I had no problem with this at all). This is a most unattractive future world - hardly unsurprising if it's a place in which nuclear attacks take place - but there are moments of hope and lightness, seen most particularly in the scenes with Dominic's friends and family.
Thomas Sweterlitsch combines so well a murder mystery with a stunning portrait of a near future world that is truly horrifying, not just for the obvious bomb devastation and the moral and political degradation of society, but also for its nightmare portrait of social media gone mad. Thrilling and thought-proving, Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a most intriguing and original read. I'm grateful for the review copy.
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it while its still sci-fi,
Pittsburgh has been wiped out and John Blaxton lost his wife and child, as he was out of the state at the time.
He's working now for an insurance company investigating cold cases, using an interactive, digital archive, when he spots a glitch in the system.
Unfortunately, someone notices his discovery and begins to remove his wife from the archive, as he digs deeper.
This is one of those books that imagines a disturbing view of the future using what's currently possible and is quite chilling in its believeability.
A rollercoaster ride that is worth reading now before the future becomes a reality.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Virtual memories,
A science fiction/thriller novel. It runs for three hundred and thirty nine pages. It's divided into four parts, and further into many relatively short chapters.
It's complete and self contained, and not part of a trilogy or the start of any series.
Strong language, violence, and some very adult content means it's strictly for grown up readers.
The main character is a man called John Dominic Blaxton. Dominic to all who know him. He narrates things in the first person, present tense. This is set in the relatively near future. Ten years after a terrorist attack destroyed the city of Pittsburgh, killing hundreds of thousands of people.
One of the victims was Dominic's pregnant wife.
But Pittsburgh survives after a fashion. Thanks to the archive. An interactive digital record of the place, those who lived there, and all that happened to them. Right up to the moment of the attack.
Dominic, when we first meet him, isn't dealing too well with things. In therapy. Logging into the archive as often as he can to relive happy memories with his wife. Let go from job his as a researcher into those who died. Such people use the archive to find details about victims, usually for insurance claims.
You can interact with the archive in many ways. You can be an observer. Or literally step into the shoes, as It were, of the victims, and do what they did.
Dominic is preoccupied by one victim. Who is seemingly being erased from the archive. If people can tamper with it, then that has implications.
All of which lead to him getting caught up in a very dangerous mystery...
The first person present tense narration style means that the start of the book isn't really a straightforward read because like most things that try to do this style, it lands the reader right in the middle of things. Then you steadily have to get used to the way the story is told. The fact that Dominic is continually bombarded by adverts and social media and reality shows taken to the extreme, all via sophisticated personal software, is very well presented in the writing, coming across as it would if someone was describing experiencing that kind of thing. But that's not entirely easy reading.
So this is one of those books to stick with till the writing starts to become something you get used to. About seventy or so pages in, it does, and then the pages do start turning rapidly.
Even then you do have to concentrate on this, because scenes can be in the real world, or in the virtual world, and if the latter he can be either observing or following the actions of a victim.
The mystery conspiracy plot is slowly building in the background all this time. It being one of those books where that does start to kick in, via one good relatively early moment of 'hang on a minute!', just at the point when you've gotten into the writing and the world building and you're waiting to see if something of substance will happen. This plot isn't ultimately anything special, but it's pretty capably done, and does manage to keep a few surprises in the wings till the right moment.
Dominic is a decent character, but perhaps not the most memorable protagonist. His various issues and neuroses can make him perhaps difficult to wholly relate to. Although as a picture of someone going through those things this isn't badly done. But ultimately what fascinates here are the concepts. The idea of the archive and the way it can provide clear memories long after they've gone from the mind, plus the reality shows and extreme social networking do offer food for thought about how people might be if the world was like that.
Not an easy read. And really not a book for everyone. It would be an eighteen certificate if it was a film. But one to file under very promising debut.
5.0 out of 5 stars Pittsburgh Gone,
Dominic lost his wife 10 years ago to a terrorist attack destroyed the city of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh survives as a digital archive. A place where yo can interact with the long dead victims, to find solace. The archive is also used for insurance claims for the families of the victims. One such victim is being digitally erased.
Dominic soon finds out that this is dangerous work!
4.0 out of 5 stars A paean to memory, forgetting and forgiving - wrapped in a taut cyber-thriller...,
Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a thriller, and a journey of personal discovery, with a clever conceit at its heart. After a US city is devastated by a dirty bomb, an archive of their digital footprint is created. The citizens every move is tracked and stored, as a memorial, as a place for the survivors to visit to relive time with their deceased loved ones – and more disturbingly, as a tourist attraction, and as a means of settling insurance claims.
The protagonist works in the Archive as an investigator in the latter capacity – tracking down individuals on the day that the city ended, in an effort to satisfy insurance companies. But one of the bodies he’s investigating looks like a murder – and so he begins to investigate, increasingly obsessively, perhaps as expiation for his wife’s death in the blast, and his own survival.
The personal side of the story works very well. The protagonist is immediately shown to be deeply broken, burdened with survivor’s guilt, and unable to let go of his past. Over the course of the text, this burden doesn’t lift, exactly, but the reader is shown how it may begin to be borne more easily. The author gives us a protagonist in pain, in denial, and desperate – and each of those emotions is believable, and wrenches at the reader with immediacy and passion. Blaxton’s internal psychodrama is brilliantly realised, and holds the reader’s attention across the pages of the book.
The thriller portion is less effective, but perfectly reasonable. The structure surrounding the central mystery is familiar, but the elements are a little different. The investigation, the turning up of clues, is certainly tense enough – and the denoument is wonderfully done, tying in with the protagonists personal growth. Still, it felt more workmanlike than sublime – a means of moving the character forward, but not as immediately compelling as the character it transported.
The world that this all takes place in seems a darker mirror of our own – the growth of corporate power, an increasingly monarchical and religious US Presidency, neural interfaces with corporate sponsors, christened ‘AdWare’, televised executions, and, of course, the obliteration of a city. The overall tone is evoked nicely – there is an oppressive sense of desperate corporatism over the entire world of the text. But here and there, it seems to slip up – in an effort to emphasise the awfulness of the setting, it pushes further and further into the extreme, with some loss of plausibility – a move from the disturbing into the simply grotesque (if nothing else, the ubiquitous neural net seems to serve little purpose other than to fling salacious advertising at its owners – so why would anyone have it put in?).
In any case, this remains a solid book – it approaches, and examines unflinchingly, themes of forgiveness, of guilt, of survival – the importance of memory and the importance of letting go, all wrapped around a mystery. Though the world and the mystery aren’t as compelling as they could be, they are decent enough – and the protagonists journey is fascinating enough to forgive imperfections elsewhere. Worth the read!
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life In Adware,
What if........ Imagine a world were Pittsburgh was wiped out by a suitcase nuke? Imagine a world were you connected to the inter-web in your head? Imagine a world were you could view everyones life via their online presence? Dominic Blaxton has all of this and more. He is a researcher for a company specialising in settling insurance claims for the deceased. He becomes obsessed with what appears to be a murder, researching to to the point of losing perspective. Drug addiction and a sense of grief over the loss of his wife dominate a once brilliant poets mind to the despair of those around. One pill too many and he loses hos job and is rescued by a saviour. But is it all as it seems? Set in an America were everything, including the presidency, is sensationalist and sleazy this is a nightmare vision of the future as it should never be. Perhaps 20 pages too long, but still a good read.
4.0 out of 5 stars Another day in the future and a murder from the past - unique idea,
It is the future, ten years after a nuclear holoclast has reduced the city of Pittsburgh to piles of ash. In the new world, (totally digital and media savvy) and survivor, John Dominic Blaxton, who was out of state at the time of the event, is grieving for his wife and unborn child, who immerses himself in the past. Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the "Archive" —a digital record and fully interactive of the hiistory of Pittsburgh. Althought it is accessible to those who wish to revisit the plitch aces they knew and see people they may have loved. Dominic, employed by an insurance company uses the Archive to solve "cold cases", murders long forgotten and unsolved.
However, He finds a glitch in the system a disturbed code that seems as if someone is covering a murder of a female corpse buried in a park. He digs deeper into the system and his tracks are noted. His life will never be the same as someone begins erasing the tracks of his own wife's life, taking her away from him forever. He uncovers layer after layer but things will never be the same again. There is an air of poignancy, depression and a concept of a a depressing future complicated by an overexcess of technololgy gone awry. Dominic is unable to move on as he relives the days of his life with his dead wife. His investigation brings him into peril and he cannot face life without the memories.
This is a dark book. Not a pleasant view of the future but worth reading if you enjoyed Total Recall, Matrix etc.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare future world,
The main character is a man called John Dominic Blaxton and he is one of the survivors of a blast that reduced his city to rubble - he is also mourning the death of his wife, Theresa, and their unborn child and spends much of the book trying to find a way to bring Theresa back. The author conjures up a nightmare futuristic world where technology is very powerful but not powerful enough to bring someone back from the dead - or at least, not someone that an ordinary man like Blaxton wants brought back. Blaxton pursues all leads through a digital archive where he also discovers the apparently hidden body of a young woman called Hannah. I'm afraid I didn't get any further than that before my time ran out to renew. What I have read so far is well written and engaging and I do want to know what happens - so I will continue and hope to update this review at some point in the near future. In the meantime, if you are a future fantasy sci-fi sort of reader, I'm sure you would enjoy reading this.
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Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch