Zachary Mason,author of the novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey,is a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence. He was a finalist for the 2008 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. He lives in California.
Table of Contents
1. Floating World 3 2. High Playground 5 3. Oculus 7 4. Negotiable Sense of Place 11 5. Working 15 6. What Forgetting Is 20 7. Discipline 22 8. Unreal City 25 9. Matches 28 10. Laptop 40 11. Theater 50 12. Clinic 55 13. Secret Book 63 14. Ghost 66 15. Future Shift 74 16. Circumference 82 17. Tunnel 84 18. Essential Hardness 91 19. No True Security 93 20. Fundamental Things Never Really Change 101 21. Someone 109 22. Shapes Purely 112 23. Finish Up 116 24. Stillness in Memory 122 25. Just Leaving the Station 129 26. Nonexistent Prisons 132 27. Venice Replicated 136 28. Departure 147 29. Bad Pattern 156 30. Ossuary 163 31. Refuge 167 32. Still Unformed 170 33. Encoded in Form 175 34. Final Sword 177 35. Persephone 183 36. Usually in Trouble 189 37. Cloudbreaker 198 38. Thought Purely 205 39. Lost Coast 207 40. In the Palm of Her Hand 211 41. Oublier 217 42. Tangle of Snakes and Darkness 221 43. Intimacy of the Mundane 223 44. Great Dark Forward 226 45. Good Thing to Own 231 46. Exact Enumeration of Blurred Flocks 237 47. Something to Cry About 242 48. World Is a Chessboard 251 49. Closely Coupled Forms of Nothing in Particular 259 50. Our Lady of Drones 266 51. Never Really Have Happened 271 52. Sphinx Explains Our Horror 275 53. A Little Beyond the Law 281 54. Unwieldy, Lovely, Perhaps Eighteenth Century 288 55. Form on the Water 293 56. Axis Mundi 297 57. Vaguely Cetacean 300 58. Touch Nothing 302 59. Telemetry Irreconcilable 307 60. What They Really Wanted 308 61. Hole in the Wall 310 62. Flaw in His Vision 317 63. Purpose, Impatience, Suffering 324 64. Difficult Transition 329 65. Babel 331 66. Change of Plan 340 67. Future Selves Forgive Her 343 68. Beyond Is Hidden 351 69. Island in the Past 354 70. History Lacks a Story 357 71. Dolos 362 72. Memorial 365 73. Masamune 367 74. Marmont 370 75. No Longer Metaphor 375 76. Continuity 380 77. Arabescato 384
Void Star 4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
A pleasurable jaunt with AI, neuro-augmentation, and a street samurai.
More than 1 year ago
[NOTE: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
This story takes us on the paths followed by three characters very different from each other: Irina, carrying a brain implant that gives her perfect memory and access to AIs; Kern, a young refugee from the San Francisco favelas, who taught himself through books and martial arts thanks to a laptop found in a dump; and Thales, son of a murdered Brazilian politician, whose life hangs by a thread only because his body may reject the implant that saved his life at any moment.
The world depicted in the novel is not exactly cyberpunk, not exactly transhumanistic, not exactly dystopian, but a blend of all three? Life-prolonging and youth treatments exist... only for those who can afford them. The implant in both Irina and Thales’s brains is exceptional... but. Large corporations dominate everyday life, but the protagonists are different from their more usual cyberpunk counterparts. Earth is going through climate changes and places like Singapore are gradually going underwater, and many people don’t have access to basic necessities... but at the same time, a sense of wonder still permeates the story, if only because of the way the characters are confronted to various threats and obstacles, yet also to hopes and openings towards new paths. Kern’s laptop, for instance, because of what it represents, or could represent, for a young boy living in the streets. Or the inhuman and fascinating beauty of the AIs introduced here, the destructive Cloudbreaker and the elusive Mathematician.
This is both close to us, making it possible to grasp it, with its technologies that we can understand (tablets and phones, albeit somewhat obsolete for the wealthier characters), and at the same time deeply alien and full of mysteries (what would it be like to live with a perfect, artificial memory you can access just whenever, yet that may send you into seizure and kill you?).
‘Void Star’ reads well, although for some reason I felt like taking my sweet time with it, perhaps because unconsciously I didn’t want to finish it too fast? It may sometimes be a wee difficult to follow, since it doesn’t rely on detailed explanations, instead taking its readers through its characters’ travels; I quite liked that, though—I like that in general in SF/F, even though I know I can’t read such stories when I’m too tired, for fear of losing my pace and missing important hints. While some events appeared, as a result, a little confusing, in the end I could still piece everything together. The three main narratives are well interwoven—chapter Y actually holds the missing answers to what happened in chapter X, and so on—and even when I didn’t have all the information to understand their world in the beginning, it wasn’t much of a problem.
Conclusion: Not the easiest read around, due to its (beautiful but sometimes complex) descriptive language and concepts; however, if one is ready to tackle that, this book can be positively fascinating.
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