by David Louis Edelman

This one’s a slow burner. Slow like Dune or Red Mars – all deep characterisation and scene setting in the opening pages. And it needs to be.

      As the first book in the developing Jump 225 trilogy, its credo is to create the kind of plot arc and characters a reader will be willing to adhere to for the long haul. The good news is Edelman casts the necessary deep hooks with effortless style. The surprising twist comes with the realisation that he reels in an infectious page turner without recourse to all-out Hollywood action. With Infoquake the conflict is heavily internalised, and the lion’s share of the introspective turmoil gets expressed by Edelman’s protagonist, Natch.

      For almost one fifth of the book we excavate the back story of this young man and his copious skills at programming code – code that drives the nanites now inhabiting us all. From bullied orphan to Fifecorp Master, we follow every agonising step and see a driven man emerge from the wreckage of his early life. He may not be a likeable central character, but the pillory of youth that he’s harried upon guarantees your empathetic support.

      Suffering brainstorms similar to Nicola Tesla’s, Natch channels his troubling epiphanies into the programmable sphere of Mind-Space. It’s here, in the virtual realm of the ‘multi’, that Edelman pulls a deft sidestep away from Gibson’s virtual realm. Rather than a zone filled with avatars, the multi is more a datasphere packed with information and code. It’s when this code then interacts with the nanites inside the body that things become interesting. Some programmes are mundane, simply changing the colour of your eyes for example. Some, like the illegal ‘black’ codes, are more dangerous and one in particular – called MultiReal – has the power to warp reality itself. The arrival of this final piece of code, and its progenitor Margaret Surina, causes the plot to suddenly accelerate in a stark contrast to the book’s opening. Thankfully, the breakneck scramble through the concluding pages only fuels your hunger for more. Edleman’s sequel simply can’t get here fast enough.