Suspended Earth by M.R. Mortimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Suspended Earth by M.R. Mortimer
Cyberpunk has been around since well before someone coined the term; sometimes lightly touched on by such greats as John Brunner and Philip K. Dick and in some cases examined to the extreme. But usually what stands out in the mind when another cyber punk novel comes around is; oh another matrix book. I suppose some might nod more toward William Gibson and say another Johnny Mnemonic book. Well they might pick one of his several other books. This book starts out a lot like the Matrix and eventually leads to a grossly nasty scene where the main character apparently explodes all across a room in a bloody mess as he vanishes from the net.
Fortunately we right away get images of what is: as opposed to what appears to be: and there are scenes of a caretaker with tanks of people in suspension with tubes hanging from them. Inside the Caretaker Generation Facility is the single caretaker who is getting ready to be replaced. His replacement apparently comes-seamlessly out of the many rows of potential candidates-and the caretakers own retirement to an incinerator is all done in a placid tone. It's a well orchestrated transfer, all done through the agency of a computer and in just the right number of steps that when the new caretaker goes crazy and nearly destroys some critical panels the old caretaker has already been incinerated and the computer is forced to kill the present caretaker and quickly extract a new caretaker.
Enter Daniel who is yanked out while with his girlfriend; leaving her traumatized in a grizzly room and left to answer questions the police have. Soon, by virtue of the virtual environment she discovers her boyfriend is not who he said he is or maybe even didn't exist and the police begin to suspect she's the victim of a gruesome hoax.
In the real world Daniel is confronted with a new reality including the body of the last failed caretaker as warning not to upset the computer. Daniel is left to try to figure out what's going on; but the computer has been programmed to not be very helpful in that area. Fortunately Daniel is a bit of a computer hacker and he begins to examine ways to get past all the safety features and in his efforts to locate his girlfriend and try to contact her he eventually triggers an event that nearly begins the destruction of the virtual world and that would mean the death of everyone in the tanks.
It takes a good portion of the book to get to a point where the people in the virtual world are safe and Daniel and others are able to, through the help of a rogue program previously inserted into the system, remove those who want out and begin to build a force that can investigate what is actually going on. They think they can do this, because there are a multitude of similar facilities in the world that have been programmed to various different historic eras and they are certain that one of them has clues to what might have happened; to have most of the earths population placed in these tanks.
Soon it's discovered that in our exploration of space we came across a race of beings who found that the human body contains a resource that they need and through some form of sinister alliance with humans have created these massive farms to keep people like cattle and oblivious to the real world as they live their lives in a virtual world.
This is when the real story begins and the struggle for mankind to regain it's foothold on its own planet.
This is a mostly well written story that appears to be a Prequel to the Author's previous work that takes place in the same universe. If I have any complaint it would be to the dozen or so times the sentence structure was convoluted enough to confuse me. They weren’t passive sentences, but they were just as difficult to read as any of the worst of those.
Because this was apparently written long before the others and later altered to fit into the front end of his series of books it seems appropriate enough to become a debut novel of a sort with a possibility of having a lot of his younger raw talent exposed. I have yet to read the others in the series, but this one is done well enough to entice me into finding out what else goes on in the strange universe as Earth regains its freedom.
This is fair SFF and some CyberPunk with a bit of a twist and lots of potential for future stories both in the real and the virtual world.
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