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Null States continues Campbell Award finalist Malka Older's Centenal Cycle: the politically charged science fiction trilogy that began with Infomocracy.
- A Locus Award Finalist for Best First Novel
- The book The Huffington Post called "one of the greatest literary debuts in recent history"
- Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The Verge, Flavorwire, Kirkus, and Book Riot
The future of democracy is about to implode.
After the last controversial global election, the global infomocracy that has ensured 30 years of world peace is fraying at the edges. As the new Supermajority government struggles to establish its legitimacy, agents of information across the globe strive to keep the peace and maintain the flows of data that feed the new world order.
In the newly incorporated DarFur, a governor dies in a fiery explosion. In Geneva, a superpower hatches plans to bring microdemocracy to its knees. In Central Asia, a sprawling war among archaic states threatens to explode into a global crisis. And across the world, a shadowy plot is growing, threatening to strangle Information with the reins of power.
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Great Book 2 of 3
We get more Mishima! We get a lot more Roz! This book keeps us hurtling along the micro-democracy of the near future, addressing the biggest question I had about Infomocracy (the first book): did everyone really just go along with this radical new set-up?
The answer, of course, is "no", and Older delivers several different plausible reactions from people who would _not_ approve of such a complete overhaul of what it means to be a "government" in a (mostly) post-nation world. This is the meat of the book, and as such, it's very satisfying.
But what this book does _not_ do is end. As the middle of a trilogy, that's fine, but as a stand-alone volume, it really isn't.
This doesn't matter much to me at this time, because I've already downloaded Book 3 ("State Tectonics"). That should tell you something: Older has built a world and a supposition that I still want to see more of. She also writes characters that I wind up caring about (which is more on me than on other authors: I usually care much more about plot than characters or even prose).
But if each book of a trilogy is supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, I'm afraid this one doesn't have the last. The next book better end, or Older will join Neal Stephenson in that particular foible.
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I would call it soft and happy cyberpunk
The editor's/author's choice to classify this book/series as cyber punk feels like a huge disservice, and is the main reason this is not a 5 star review.
I have mixed feelings about this book being cyberpunk, as if it weren't listed as cyberpunk I would not have listened to it, but at the same time there are certain expectations that come along with the classification, and it was a letdown that almost none of these tropes made an appearance. It feels like the little that does address cyber punk tropes were thrown in as an after thought just so the book could fit into a relatively small collection of cyberpunk literature on auditable.
The book/series was a fun listen overall, but it is a huge stretch to call it a cyberpunk novel. It is more of a spy thriller set in the future. There is little in the way of the traditional cyberpunk staples: there are corporate governments, but the overall tone is bright and cheerful.
Probably the most cyberpunk tech described in the book would be the minor bio mods that simulate goose flesh on the back of the neck when it senses something out of place (this makes appearances in the 1st and 2nd novel). The characters are jacked unto the net and use projections as a display that can be projected at eye level or pushed further away so others can also view the image. These projectors may be implants, but the author does not spend much time detailing the tech. It is easy to imagine the projectors being some type of VR/AR glasses or contacts.
Overall, I enjoyed the books. and had this been correctly identified as a thriller set in the near future (almost all of the tech in this book feels like it is maybe 10 years out) then it would be a 5 star review across the board. I just feel like people should know what they are getting.