Alexa remembers a grandmother with icy blue eyes. An unmanned ship that came to their mountain village from the sky, bringing technological wonders from the Galactics. Security troops with laser guns who took villagers away. She remembers her proud years at the Academy, her work on the open Net doing glass. Then there was the war, the explosion, the hospital. Alexa is not Alexa now but Ivy ... or is she Augustine? Psychologists lecture her, hallucinations visit her. Mr. Existence, frowning, gives advice; Needle, ...
Alexa remembers a grandmother with icy blue eyes. An unmanned ship that came to their mountain village from the sky, bringing technological wonders from the Galactics. Security troops with laser guns who took villagers away. She remembers her proud years at the Academy, her work on the open Net doing glass. Then there was the war, the explosion, the hospital. Alexa is not Alexa now but Ivy ... or is she Augustine? Psychologists lecture her, hallucinations visit her. Mr. Existence, frowning, gives advice; Needle, silent and smiling in his panama hat, offers death. All Augustine knows for sure is that the extraordinary talent she once possessed is even stronger now, and that the Guardians of the Rose need her desperately. They want her to contact the Galactics. Jean Mark Gawron creates a haunting world where information is God and artificial intelligences have joined ranks with misfit hackers to undermine a fascist state.
After a long hiatus (his last novel, Algorithm , appeared in 1978), Gawron offers an intriguing if not altogether satisfying novel. Gawron's near-future world is a bizarre hybrid, half cyperpunkish datagrids and rebellious artificial intelligences, half sinister religious police state. Thankfully, the dominating religion is not one we already know: a hacker-prophet, Charles of the Rose, has spawned a religion of individual identity which has, predictably, evolved into a repressive system in which the Ministry of Persons can declare a citizen ``depersonalized'' and nonexistent, a la 1984 . Our heroine, Augustine, super-talented ``interfacer,'' has nearly been killed in an accident. Afterwards, she struggles to accept her restructured identity, wrestling with buried memories. Sent to a ``monastery'' for troublesome gifted personalities, she begins to uncover the elaborate schemes in which she's entangled. The state wants to use her talents to decipher an alien artifact and to purge the vast data net of a persistent and mysterious virus, and will use whatever force it takes. The author's speculations on the nature of identity and the unusual texture of his future world are engaging variants of common SF concepts. The plot, however, merely hobbles along, with much at the end resolved via graceless infodumps . (Apr.)
A young woman undergoing massive personality reconstruction in a California of the future struggles to adapt to the conflicting aims of the secular theocracy in which her body lives and the realms of cyberspace where she, as an interfacer without peer, prefers to dwell. Taking a gigantic leap beyond cyberpunk, Gawron's latest novel tackles nothing less than the definitions of intelligence and personhood. Exhilarating in form, sobering in content, this title belongs in most sf collections.
After being injured in a near-fatal explosion in a future-time California, talented cyberspace Network interfacer Alexa undergoes mandatory personality reconstruction and, as Augustine, demonstrates an exceptional heightening of her abilities. The transformation quickly attracts the attention of the ubiquitous Rose Guardians, members of a quasi-religious arm of the government who install her in a training monastery and use her to contact the Galactics, an unseen race of aliens who supply humanity with most of its state-of-the-art cybernetic technology. Along with her similarly afflicted fellow residents, Augustine leads a small rebellion against the auspices of the Network, in the process revolutionizing both her own self-concept and the infrastructure of cyberspace itself. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Orwell's "1984" society of ministries and convoluted political philosophies, the totalitarian future Gawron envisions provides a fresh context for original speculations on the interface between human intelligence and virtual reality. Despite a somewhat plodding story line, intriguing ideas abound, among them perhaps the first extended science fiction narrative written from the point of view of an artificial intelligence. Future cyberspace explorers will have much to contemplate.