on 25 August 2011
I am really enjoying my near future fiction at the moment and Thomas K Carpenter does not disappoint. The Digital Sea is exactly my kind of book, multiple character threads intertwining and building to something compelling. The main character is really interesting, a savant autistic that has developed an AI construct to help her interact with the world. Her character arc as we discover the scale of her power to affect the online "digital sea" is superb. Thoroughly recommended.
on 8 April 2013
Many have described the current world we live in as the `Age of the Computer'. But where we are now pales compared to the world imagined in this work, where, via implants, a person's view of `reality' can be changed at will, all neatly computed to fold the `real world' into the desired view. Such capabilities obviously would have a great impact on society, as some people would opt for living their entire lives in their created fantasy world, while others would work to control the world with carefully constructed scenarios that hook into long held prejudices and beliefs.
It's a world where climate change has become obvious, with many low-lying cities abandoned to the encroaching sea, and a world that has collectively decided to do something about the root cause of it: just too many people. Sagan's law has been globally enacted, mandating a maximum of one child per couple, with a goal of reducing the world population to one billion from its current seven.
An excellent background, presented in bits and pieces as the story is unfolded. A story that follows multiple characters of disparate backgrounds, from a high functioning autistic savant who sees the world in numbers, a modest South African family man dragooned into a shadow military organization, to an unusual reporter who still travels to the scenes of his stories rather than go via computer avatar. There is a mystery to solve, a conspiracy to unearth and defeat, and personal goals of each character to achieve, all with potentially world-shattering consequences.
This reads easily, although it is a little confusing at the beginning as the background and history of each character and the world is only slowly revealed. The true focus of the work doesn't really become obvious till almost half-way through. Although there is enough exposition of each character to make them real people, I wanted to have more background, greater concentration on their history and what makes them tick, presented earlier than actually happens, as there were sometimes key facts about these individuals that were not revealed till very late, facts that would have helped make clear why these people were doing the things they were.
And, although the world is deftly described, once again I wanted more; actually much more about how we get from today to this new world in just forty years, how things like `Sagan's Law' came to be enacted, accepted, and enforced, more background on the major corporations, and just in general, more. This is potentially a very fascinating world, and perhaps it will be more completely described in the following two books of this trilogy, but in just this volume I couldn't quite get a complete picture.
An excellent start, with a complete story line in this volume, but there are obvious things left unresolved, waiting for the next couple of books.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)