Review: Infoquake by David Louis Edelman
I’m a software developer. I develop web applications for a living and I develop web applications for fun (Novica and TagShadow respectively) I’ve never been an active part of an “app” marketplace as described in Infoquake, but I’ve encountered plenty and the ecosystem is much larger than smart phones, even though the Apple’s app store is probably the most visible. I even used a visual programing environment one summer. Matlab provided an integral piece in an non-linear dynamics experiment (pictured above) I worked on in college.
I give all this background to say that this was a piece of science fiction written for me. I know it was written for the science fiction community at large, but if Edelman had a particular reader in mind, it was probably someone like me. I must also confess before I actually talk directly about the book that it was the Afterword for the series, Edelman posted online, that finally prompted me to go check this out.
Infoquake is David Louis Edelman’s first novel and the first novel in his Jump 225 trilogy. There are plenty of awkward bits, but I’ll chalk up to this being his first novel. What he does WELL is make software development exciting. He captures the visceral feeling that oozes from a late night coding session. He incorporates technologies that have become goto plot devices in science fiction like teleportation, augmented reality and nanotechnology into the fabric of his future without just treating them like magic. He weaves politics, corporate rivalries, malicious hacking, social engineering and software development into a fun story. There are few REALLY likable characters, but Natch and his team grow into a unlikely pseudo family its difficult not to root for.
The emphasis of the story is on programming apps for networks of microscopic computers inside people. I had the “there’s an app for that” commercials running through my head constantly as I progressed through the novel. It’s fun to dream up all the various cool things I’d like my body to be able to do and then think about how I’d program a piece of software to accomplish it. But the novel is about more than just creating and using these cool tools. Its about selling them. There are many slight extrapolations of current marketing techniques, both clean and mean, sprinkled through the text.
As the main line of the narrative progresses, we get some important glimpses into Natch’s past. I particularly like how each of the lessons Natch learned both give insight to his character and hint at the strategies he utilizes later in the story. I look forward to even more growth in both the character and technology as the series progresses. I highly recommend this to any science fiction fan. It’s futuristic enough to satisfy someone used to traditional Hard SF or Space Opera, but grounded enough I keep thinking of it as “near future.” Neat trick that.
Book 2 is Multireal. I keep wanting to camel-case these titles as that’s how they’d appear if they showed up in my code: infoQuake, multiReal, etc.