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November 2002
2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Feature Review: Everyone In Silico
by Jim Munroe
Eight Walls Four Windows (Trade)
ISBN 1568582404 (November 2002)
Review by Ernest Lilley
256
 pages List price $13.95  
Buy this book and support SFRevu at 
Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

L - US Cover, R - Canadian Cover

Feature Interview: Jim Munroe

Editor's note: Please don't haul me off in an unmarked van for running this review (or worse, one plastered with corporate logos). I'm a happy and loyal consumer of brand name goods, honest. Take Jim Munroe instead. He's the one who wrote Everyone in Silico. He's the one who edited Adbuster's Magazine. He's the enemy of all that's good for profit...not me. - editor

Every generation discovers certain things for itself. Sex, greed, good, evil, art...bicycles.

Canadian Jim Munroe set's his third novel, Everyone in Silico, in the not too distant Vancouver of 2036 where everyone is uploading themselves to "Frisco", a virtual city built in cyberspace after San Francisco crumbled under an earthquake. Well, almost everyone. Upgrading to "Self" costs money, unless you opt for one of the cheap free packages, where you're constantly bombarded with virtual advertising through every sense. What you want is to go Platinum, where you can port from any location, block out all the ads, be what you want to be, see what you want to see. That's so-so-so (cool).

What's so special about Everything in Silico? I mean, aren't there enough stories out there about corporate futures or humanity abandoning a trashed Earth for cyberspace? Didn't we read Circuit of Heaven (sfrevu review) or seen The Matrix? Haven't we ever read William Gibson or Neil Stephenson? For Pohl's sake! Haven't we read Space Merchants? Well, yeah, we have, and we highly recommend all that...but Munroe brings a real sense of countering corporate culture to his writing that separates his work from the cyberpunk pack. Jim Munore is like a young William Gibson, only funnier, and his writing keeps getting better instead of more boring. In most cyberpunk, the characters are either corporate drones or hacker rebels, in Silico, nobody is that simple. Munroe accepts our addiction to the over stimulation of manufactured reality, cyber or not, but he struggles against it anyway.

The story follows a cast of characters in and out of Frisco as Munroe makes his case.

  • Doug Patterson is a middle age ad-exec, a coolhunter, and he's suffering from the usual un-cool mid-life crisis. He's in debt, his wife's bored, his daughter is obsessed with teen music idols (Pole Position) and worst of all, he's lost his edge at work. His wife really wants to go to Frisco, but doesn't know that Paul can't afford to take her there, at least not in the style to which she is accustomed.

  • Nicky is a twenty something artist working in gene splicing with equipment she salvaged from her college when it shut down the department for lack of students. Now she makes rat-dog hybrids to scam tourists with as "bonsai canines" to make money for her real art projects, vegetarian bobcats and the like to unleash on the city as art.

  • Eileen looks like an old woman, but she's really in her thirties. She's paid the price of too much accelerated time during her career in corporate black ops and is now retired living in a quiet little house raising her 12 year old "grandson" clone, Jeremy. When Jeremy disappears into Frisco, she goes to the Self office to get him back. Eventually she winds up going to the ends of the earth to get him back.

  • And then there's Paul Harris. One of the original "Harmless Cranks" who were doing anti-corporate protests in the 20s he's planning something special for the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the corporation as a "natural person". He's also wondering where all the bodies are buried, or stored, or whatever. Nobody seems to care, and nobody seems to know.

So, Paul wants to shake things up. Nicky wants to make cool animals and dig the Vancouver scene. Doug wants to make everybody happy and get rid of his nagging self-doubt. Eileen wants to find Jeremy, even if it means putting on the enhanced reality suit that has already cost her her youth. Jeremy just wants to have fun, and fun is what we get to have reading the book.

Everyone in Silico is recommended to every consumer clone out there. You have nothing to lose but your comfort. It's also recommended to you anti-globalization-corporation-establishment types...and anyone who thinks cyberpunk is a tad too dreary and self serving.

Want to know more about fighting consumer sloth and the corporate reality? Take the AdBusters Corporate Crackdown Tour: http://adbusters.org/campaigns/corporate/

sfr3d.gif (19860 bytes) 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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