- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Where does the soul reside? Can it be copied, divided, subdivided, and compartmentalized? Where does the human spirit call its home? Can the soul be quantified through quantum physics? These are some of the questions and driving motivations in David Brin's Kiln People.
It's a different kind of world than one you normally expect. Ask yourself this: What would you do if you could make a copy of yourself? You could sleep late while your copy goes to work. Or you could learn French while the other you does your taxes. The possibilities are endless, and in this future, it's just part of everyone's average day.
The copies -- golems -- are clay bodies imprinted with the Standing Wave of the original's consciousness. Given a portion of the original's soul-stuff, the golems live out an aspect of their originals' lives. Some dittos are built for sensuality, others for combat. Some are better at concentration and mental labor, while some are just used for basic labor until their mayfly life spans end and they transfer the memories of their day back to their originals. This is the new human society, populated by people and their disposable selves. Whether you see golems as utilities freeing mankind or as a new race of slaves to be exploited depends on which side of the wave you stand.
Albert Morris is a detective in a world where most people have hobbies. He spends his day in his bathrobe, searching computer files while his dittos do his legwork. Albert specializes in copyright crime and ditto piracy -- people stealing golems and making black-market copies. Even in this new society, people can make a living on human nature's baser instincts.
Albert's success rate soon draws the attention of Aeneas Polom, one of the founders of Universal Kiln, creators of the golem technology. It seems Polom's partner has been kidnapped, and he wants Morris to investigate. But kidnapping eventually turns to murder, and Morris finds himself in a conflict between two mad scientists, in a fight for control that will change duplication technology even further. Along the way, another Albert finds himself involved in a not-so-legal industrial espionage mission that turns to sabotage aimed against Universal Kiln and has him on the run and hunted.
This is a fun novel, rich with ideas, that examines on a very human level the ramifications and side effects of our ambitions and the things we take for granted. It's also a hard-boiled murder mystery with levels of physics and metaphysics that work your brain. But for me, as always, it's David Brin's characters that really pull me into the story and keep me up until three in the morning.
Brin, himself a scientist, spends a lot of time thinking, writing, and lecturing about the future. He ponders topics like space travel, information technology, and ecology, as well as the human spirit -- the way we live and how that might change tomorrow. Something done for the greater good could also have tragic consequences if we are not careful.
His writing is filled with an enthusiasm for what's to come. Brin entertains as well as informs and enlightens the reader. He does so with imagination and excitement and an honest and passionate clarity to his voice. As I've read his books, I've shared his excitement and wondered over the possibilities of the future. (J.K.)