Monday, July 18, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: A STAR CURIOUSLY SINGING, Kerry Nietz

The next book in my quest to read all the books by fellow Realmies in my to-be-read queue  before this year's Realm Makers conference.

This first book in the Dark Trench Saga is mind-blowing -- which, in the case of the culture imagined here could be actual, literal, and pretty painful.

The hero, Sand, is a debugger -- one of a group of people who have brain implants that let them touch the Stream -- essentially, the Cloud, the worldwide Internet -- touch data, manipulate and service machines, do research, all in the comfort and iffy safety of their own heads. For the Abduls (a slang term used by debuggers to refer to the repressive culture that rules the world), control of everyone's lives, their attitudes, their bodies, their very thoughts, is a top priority. Debuggers are considered property, and are controlled by pain, tweaks" that punish them whenever their free-roaming thoughts (necessary in their line of work) stray too far in the wrong direction.

And you thought Big Brother was bad.

Dark Trench is also a revolutionary, super-advanced starship. Sand is sent up to an orbital station to deal with problems relating to the first voyage of the ship, and the strange behavior of one of the advanced 'bots that service the ship and crew. What he discovers as he investigates leads to encounters with the song of the title -- am I giving too much away when I call it the song of creation, the song of truth -- essentially "the heavens are telling the glories." Whose glories? Well, the deity everyone is required to worship is called simply A. But the defective 'bot speaks of "A not A cubed." To speak of, even to think of, this particular being, reaching out through song and changing the very implant in Sand's head is considered so heretical as to deserve death.

What happens when Sand understands the 'bot's strange words and dares to think freely -- essentially, to become a freehead? What's a freehead? Read this and find out. Guaranteed not to hurt one bit when your mind is blown.

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